President Cyril Ramaphosa will approach the task of rebuilding South Africa’s image as an attractive investment destination “with a private-sector lens”, he said in an interview with the Financial Times on Wednesday.
The president is in the UK where he is leading South Africa’s delegation to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting which ends today.
Before leaving for London, President Ramaphosa announced he would use the trip as an opportunity to woo investors around his ambitious goal of attracting over R1 trillion in new investment to SA over the next five years.
Speaking to the Financial Times, President Ramaphosa said that a lack of internal and foreign investment was hampering SA’s growth. The country grew by 1,3 percent in 2017, according to Statistics SA. Growth predications for 2018 have been better, with the IMF this week raising its SA growth forecast for 2018 to 1,5 percent.
President Ramaphosa said he would be making use of his private sector experience to grow the SA economy. “When I was in the private sector, you built a book and that’s how I’m approaching it. I want to build a book of investment.”
In a separate interview with Bloomberg, President Ramaphosa said the SA economy could grow at 3 percent in 2018, more than double the 2017 rate.
“We certainly want it to happen, we are going to make every effort to get close to that,” he said .
He said SA’s four newly appointed investment envoys had already heard back from a number of investors around the major investment summit planned for August or September.
“The pitch is going to be we are open for business, we are embarking on reforms that are going to lead to SA becoming even more attractive than it has been.”
President Ramaphosa said “well-crafted” incentives, such as tax or industrial incentives would help make SA a more attractive destination. “We will give you good incentives, we will give you good security.”
Asked about land expropriation without compensation, President Ramaphosa said the debate around land was an important historical issue that needed to be addressed given that South Africans had been dispossessed.
“We want the protection of property rights not to be a protection of property rights to a few people only, like it has been in the past. It should be the protection of property rights for all the people of South Africa.