President Cyril Ramaphosa will participate in a virtual business and investment roundtable on Tuesday (10 November) with representatives from three major business organisations from the United States.
The organisations are the Business Council for International Understanding (BCIU), the Corporate Council on Africa (CCA), and the US Chamber of Commerce.
“The president will be supported by South Africa’s Ambassador to the United States, Ms Nomaindia Mfeketo, as well as South Africa’s Consuls-General in Chicago, Los Angeles and New York,” the presidency said in a statement on Monday evening.
“The roundtable will provide a platform for engagement by 32 companies representing sectors such as healthcare, information communication technology, consumer goods, retail, energy, defence, agro-processing, aviation, space, transportation, film and TV production, finance, and consulting.”
Ramaphosa is expected to share South Africa’s economic reconstruction and recovery plan as well as the opportunities for doing business in the country.
The engagement takes place ahead of South Africa’s Investment Conference to be held on 17 and 18 November 2020. This is the third such conference, with discussions expected to focus on reconstruction in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“In addition, government will highlight actions taken to foster a conducive investment environment, with a focus on economic reconstruction and recovery,” minister in the Presidency, Jackson Mthembu.
Mthembu said the conference aims to build on the successes of the last two conferences, which raised R664 billion, laying the foundation for investment and accelerated economic growth.
The 2020 conference programme will also profile the strengths and comparative advantages South Africa offers investors and trade partners in a period of growing African integration through the African Continental Free Trade Area, he said.
Investment seen as key
Government is also in talks with pension fund managers around possible infrastructure investment in the country, said Dr Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, head of the Investment and Infrastructure Office in the Presidency.
Speaking at the launch of the president’s infrastructure project preparation roundtable on Tuesday (3 November), Ramokgopa said that the country’s pension funds are sitting on a ‘big pool of liquidity’ and are now beginning to explore investment in infrastructure as an additional asset class.
“Previously when we had conversations of this nature, the pension funds were not at the table. Now they are at the table, and are part of the exercise of co-creation, and we think in doing we will bel able to tap into that big pool of liquidity.”
Ramokgopa said that previous infrastructure funding had been taken directly from the government purse, but that the impact of Covid-19 had led to a severely diminished fiscus.
“Essentially we need to look at new sources of funding. But for you to be able to get projects funded outside of government’s balance sheet, they need to be sound projects.”
These ‘sound’ projects are a key part of president Cyril Ramaphosa’s recovery plan for South Africa, with infrastructure and development identified as key to the country’s turnaround.
“The damage caused by the pandemic to an already weak economy, to employment, to livelihoods, to public finances and to state-owned companies has been colossal,” Ramaphosa told parliament in a presentation in October.
“We need to see this moment as a rupture with the past and an opportunity to drive fundamental and lasting change, placing the economy on ‘a new path to growth’,” he said.