The 3rd South African Investment Conference was held on 18 November at the Santon Convention Centre although most delegates joined the discussion digitally. The Conference provided a platform for President Ramaphosa to remind potential investors of South Africa’s historical resilience and ability to overcome great challenges and emerge stronger. Click here, for the President’s opening speech in full.
- President Ramaphosa highlighted the R6.3 billion investment to date by Forestry in his speech
- The President unveiled another Forestry mega-project, announcing a further R2 billion investment by P.G.Bison
- The Forestry Sector Master plan was cited by the President
- The President only made a passing reference to the Expropriation Bill and only referred to the transfer of State land which we have advised our members previously.
- The important role of the Private Sector in shifting economic trajectories was emphasised by President Ramaphosa
Likening South Africa to the protea that adorns its coat of arms, the President reminded investors how like a protea, which can endure immense heat and come back to life richer and more vibrant than before when everything around it is scorched, South Africa to has shown it can flourish even in the harshest of environments. The President reminded conference delegates that while there is still a long way to go, South Africa has already come so far and now is the time for South Africa to grow anew and for investors to invest.
To illustrate this, the President discussed how over half of the ambitious, pre-COVID-19, 2018 target of raising R1.2 trillion in investments over five years has been committed to by local and international investors – an impressive R664 billion. That R172 billion of this has already been allocated, highlighting the R6.3 billion invested to date by the Forestry, Pulp and Paper Sector. Forestry’s R6.3 billion investment is 9% of the total amount so far committed. This is exemplary when considering the Sector is only responsible for around 1% of SA GDP. The President spoke passionately about how this investment will ultimately lead to new jobs, new skills and new opportunities for South Africans, citing amongst others the Forestry Master Plan as a framework for this.
The President also announced a further R109 billion that has been pledged over and beyond the R664 billions that has been pledged over the last two years. This new pledge includes a new Forestry mega-project, a R2 billion multinational investment by P.G. Bison in Mpumalanga, which has been added to the Forestry PPGI.
President Ramaphosa identified the foremost task in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic is not only to rebuild the country’s economy but to also reform critical areas such as the Energy Sector and South Africa’s telecommunication and digital economy. That through a strategic approach, which will be reliant on strong partnerships with key role players from business (private sector), unions and communities, South Africa’s economy can not only be restored, it can become more vibrant, resilient and inclusive.
The President spoke with conviction when he said this time of rebuilding the South African economy is a time of great opportunity and discussed how the Private Sector will have a vital role in achieving the Economic Restoration and Recovery Plan priorities and shifting South Africa’s economic trajectory. Interestingly, the President only made a passing reference to the Expropriation Bill, mentioning only the release of 700 000 hectares of vacant and underutilised State-owned land, which, as we advised previously, does not require an amendment to the Constitution. He also emphasised the Government’s commitment to providing strong protection for property rights and agricultural production when addressing the profound injustices of the past and ensuring social stability through land reform.
Summing up the Investment Conference, Mr Michael Peter, FSA Executive Director said “in all the Investment Conference was positive and profiled our Sector significantly. He added that the existing Investment pledges by SAPPI, MONDI and YORK of R34bn and the additional investment pledge of R2bn, made by PG BISON, require new sources of timber. The State has yet to crowd in the private sector and black participants in the recapitalisation of State plantations.”