South Africa’s (SA) presidential special envoy on investment, Jacko Maree, said the country must be able to compete with other African nations to secure foreign investment.
Maree made the comments at the World Economic Forum's annual meeting in Davos, where SA ministers discussed key outcomes of conversations with business leaders, both at Davos and at the UK-Africa Summit in London earlier this month.
During the briefing finance minister Tito Mboweni told delegates there had been “fruitful conversations” at Davos which he hoped would “galvanise investment”.
However, Mboweni added: “If you come to Davos with the hope of signing big investment deals, you're in the wrong place. At Davos, we exchange ideas, we debate issues, we have conversations, we make friendships. Hopefully, long-lasting friendships which might in the short, medium or long-term translate into investment.”
Grace Naledi Mandisa Pandor, SA’s minister of international relations and corporations, said there had been positive conversations with business leaders throughout the meeting.
“A number commented about our infrastructure and see this as a positive attraction in terms of considering business opportunities. We must make sure we improve, maintain, expand and modernise our infrastructure in order to continue to be an attractive destination,” she said.
Pandor added there had been more discussions about deals at the UK-Africa Summit in London.
During the summit, 27 deals – worth £6.5bn – were announced between UK firms and African partners spanning infrastructure, energy, retail, and technology.
The UK government’s international development secretary, Alok Sharma, also announced a partnership with Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, and Uganda to mobilise investment in infrastructure projects.
“UK business leaders were present as were various investment, trade and finance ministers from African countries. At that meeting, a number of future engagements were agreed and would lead to increased trade,” Pandor said.
Maree added: “If you look at the fixed investment on the ground in South Africa roughly 40% of all foreign fixed investment emanates from the UK, so staying close to those companies and helping them expand and develop is critical. What it [the summit] did highlight is that we’re in competition with a lot of other African countries and we’ve got to up our game.”
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