Building capacity to help Africa trade better

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa addresses the inaugural Africa Investment Forum


South African President Cyril Ramaphosa addresses the inaugural Africa Investment Forum

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa addresses the inaugural Africa Investment Forum
Photo credit: GCIS

Keynote address by President Cyril Ramaphosa at the Opening Plenary

It gives me great pleasure to welcome you to South Africa for this, the inaugural Africa Investment Forum.

I wish to commend the African Development Bank, the continent’s pre-eminent financial institution, for convening this Forum, and to thank the bank for choosing to host it here in Johannesburg.

The Africa Investment Forum is a significant milestone in our quest to reshape the fortunes of the African continent.

The Forum is a platform for African governments and businesses, continental and international financial institutions, and other development partners, to focus on the critical task of making Africa the next global frontier in investment.

Over these few days, we will share experiences and best practice.

We will outline strategies for growing our economies.

And, most importantly, we will connect financial institutions, project sponsors, institutional investors and other stakeholders with a view to concluding transactions.

Africa is a continent on the rise.

It has experienced significant growth over the last two decades, fuelled in part by improved governance and the deepening of democracy.

Rising incomes have seen the growth of the middle class and an increase in consumer spending.

With substantial urban growth, ready internet access, abundant resources and a large youthful population, African countries have enormous potential to leverage the technological advances of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

They have the potential to forge a new world of work that fosters innovation and entrepreneurship.

To realise this potential, Africa needs to invest in the skills, capabilities and well-being of its people.

It needs to improve governance and promote peace and stability.

Most importantly, if Africa is to seize the opportunities of the future, it needs to mobilise large scale, sustained investment, especially in infrastructure.

African governments cannot do this without business.

The private sector and private markets are key players in the African investment landscape, supported by the lending capacity of financial institutions, both on the continent and beyond.

If we are to unlock and sustain the flow of capital to Africa, we need to drive the economic reforms necessary to create an enabling business environment.

To be globally competitive, to become investment destinations of choice, we need to resolve the problems that keep investors away.

We have to address governance challenges such as policy uncertainty, financial mismanagement and corruption.

As African leaders, we must demonstrate a firm commitment to act against corruption both within public institutions and the private sector.

We must deal with burdensome red tape, provide policy and regulatory certainty, and strengthen our financial institutions.

The Africa Investment Forum provides a welcome platform for us to outline the work we are doing to create a more enabling environment for investors in Africa.

It is also an opportunity for us to listen to the concerns and suggestions of business leaders, to draw lessons, and to act.

This Forum is aligned to the key aspiration of the African Union’s Agenda 2063 of a prosperous and integrated Africa, characterised by inclusive growth and sustainable development.

Agenda 2063 has a resource mobilisation strategy that relies on the identification and expansion of investment partnerships to propel growth.

The economic transformation of the continent is dependent on all our efforts to move industrial and infrastructure projects to bankable stages, to raise capital and to accelerate the financial closure of deals.

International partnerships such as the G20 Compact with Africa can make an important contribution to this growth, while offering investors significant opportunities to do business across the continent.

The Compact is geared towards strengthening macroeconomic, business and financing frameworks across the continent to promote private investment from companies in G20 countries.

The potential of this initiative was evident in Berlin last week, where a diverse range of investors announced plans to invest in various projects in participating African countries.

African integration is key to attracting investment and growing our respective economies.

The adoption of the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement in March this year is a historic development that has the potential to fundamentally change African economies.

The expansion of intra-African trade through the Continental Free Trade Area will contribute to better policy harmonisation and trade liberalisation and facilitation regimes.

It should enhance industry competitiveness, expand continental market access and lead to the better allocation of resources.

This is good for investors, who will have access to a market of more than 1.2 billion people and a combined GDP of more than $3.4 trillion.

Economic integration – whether at continental or regional level – will further deepen the inter-connectedness of African economies.

The fortunes of any one country will be even more closely dependent on the fortunes of all countries.

As South Africa, this informs our approach to investment and development.

We have launched an ambitious investment drive to raise $100 billion in new investment over the next 5 years.

This is vital to reigniting growth in our economy and creating jobs on a far greater scale.

Two weeks ago, we held the inaugural South Africa Investment Conference here in Johannesburg, where several companies announced new investments to a total value of R290 billion.

Any investment in South Africa is an investment in Africa.

With its diversified economy and manufacturing base, advanced infrastructure and large workforce, and sophisticated telecommunications and financial sectors, South Africa has long been an important destination on the continent for foreign investors.

Our strategic position offers opportunities for investors wanting to do business in the rest of the continent.

We firmly believe that the growth of any one African economy presents opportunities for its neighbours – creating new markets for goods and services, increasing trade opportunities and expanding potential for intra-African investment.

It is for this reason that in 2016 the South African government launched an agency in the Department of Trade and Industry called Trade Invest Africa.

It gives effect to our conviction that sustainable growth in South Africa cannot be separated from growth in the rest of the African continent.

Trade Invest Africa is tasked with facilitating outward investments by South African entities to the rest of Africa through targeted financial and non-financial support.

Our approach is informed by a realisation that trade integration alone will not bring sufficient economic benefits.

Our approach seeks to address industrial capacity and infrastructure development alongside the implementation of free trade arrangements.

To extract the real value of a Continental Free Trade Area, we need to have the means to produce the goods that we want to trade.

We need factories, affordable energy, reliable water supplies, universal broadband and integrated supply chains.

We also need the roads, railway lines, harbours and air networks that are essential to move these goods.

And the people who will produce and transport these goods need decent housing in sustainable communities.

They needs schools, universities, clinics and hospitals.

It is vital therefore that we take an integrated approach to economic development both within countries and across the continent.

It is up to us to harness the power of initiatives such as the Africa Investment Forum that bring together business, financial institutions and governments in a single marketplace.

It is only through partnerships that we can succeed, and through mobilising our collective resources that we can have the financial means to do what we have set out to achieve.

This Forum is laying the ground work for a new era of collaboration that will propel us towards our goal of a prosperous, united and integrated continent.

We continue to be inspired by the optimism and resolve of the citizens of our great nations.

It is the interests of these citizens that we must value above all else.

It is their wellbeing and their prosperity to which we must dedicate our every effort and our every capability.

That is why we need investment, why we need partnership, and why we have all gathered here today for this inaugural Africa Investment Forum.

I thank you.

Remarks by President Cyril Ramaphosa at the Welcome Dinner of the Inaugural Africa Investment Forum

7 November 2018

It is my pleasure to welcome you to South Africa and to this, the inaugural Africa Investment Forum.

This Forum, with its strategic focus on leveraging public private partnerships to drive investment on the continent, gives us great cause for optimism.

Among the key aspirations of the African Union’s Agenda 2063 is that of a prosperous and integrated continent based on inclusive growth and sustainable development.

African integration speaks to the free movement of people, to the deepening of intra-African trade, and to cooperation across borders on infrastructure development.

Importantly, it speaks to strengthening the capacity of continental financial institutions such as the African Development Bank to power Africa’s growth.

African integration is key to attracting investment and growing our respective economies.

It is an imperative if we are to fully harness the potential of our citizens.

In July this year, South Africa joined 44 other countries in signing the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement.

The agreement will pave the way for greater inter-regional trade, increased investment and faster industrialisation.

This Forum therefore comes at a critical and timely juncture.

Earlier this year the World Bank forecast that 6 out of the 10 fastest growing economies for 2018 would be in Africa.

With a youthful and tech-savvy population, vast resources and diverse investment opportunities across a range of sectors such as agriculture, mining, telecoms and to energy, Africa is ideally positioned to drive global growth.

The pace with which new technologies have been embraced by the young people of this continent suggests that Africa has the potential to effectively seize the opportunities of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Numerous studies have shown that developing countries, many of which are in Africa, are suited for so-called leapfrog development.

We have seen, for example, the spectacular growth of mobile banking technology in African countries, wholly bypassing traditional banking systems that have been inaccessible to rural communities.

In other instances, renewable energy investment has seen some African communities bypass conventional energy grids.

By harnessing the potential of technology and by mobilising investment from the private sector, African societies can be at the forefront of innovation and progress.

To do this, we must confront some of the perceptions that exist about investing in African countries.

There are concerns that barriers to entry are high, regulatory red tape is overly burdensome, and governance challenges make investing in African economies risky.

It should not be difficult to do business in Africa, and yet, as investors often tell us, it has been.

If we are to unlock capital flows, we have to develop sound policy and regulatory environments, strengthen our financial institutions, improve governance and deal decisively with corruption.

Providing policy certainty and consistency is critical if we are to realise the levels of investment we seek.

This is why the African Development Bank should be commended for convening this Forum as a platform of engagement between African governments, the private sector and continental and international financial institutions.

Tomorrow you will be hearing from leaders from across the continent about the concrete actions we are undertaking in our respective countries to create a business-friendly environment that catalyses investment.

But the Africa Investment Forum is about more than just discussing ways to unlock obstacles to further investment.

We are bringing tangible, real projects to the table.

Africa will not be able to raise the $130 billion or more that it needs each year to meet its infrastructure requirements, without massive private sector investment in the continent’s development.

It is not only the people of Africa who stand to benefit.

Governments and the private sector should form relationships of mutual benefit, because Africa holds significant and untapped potential for investors.

For investors looking to diversify their portfolios, Africa is a continent where opportunities are immense and the returns on investment are significant – whether it is investing in climate smart agriculture in Nyando, Kenya; in an automotive manufacturing plant in Port Elizabeth, South Africa; in a hydroelectric dam on the Congo River; or in a tech start-up in Lagos.

We will be using this platform to showcase the opportunities that exist.

We will be using it to highlight what we are doing to remove the bottlenecks that stand in the way of greater investment into our respective countries.

We hope that the deliberations here will be robust, spirited and, above all, results-oriented.

I’d like to welcome you once again to our country, and encourage you to take advantage of your time here to see as much of South Africa as you can.

We are justifiably proud that we continue to attract high numbers of tourists to our shores, and we trust that for those visiting for the first time that it will not be your last.

This year South Africa marks the centenary of the birth of the founder of our nation, Nelson Mandela.

He was a legendary statesman, an exemplary leader, and an ardent pan-Africanist.

He never tired of emphasising the inextricable links between the struggles and fortunes of South Africa, and those of the rest of the continent. And, he always advocated for a more integrated continent.

In presenting the Africa Peace Award to the nation of Mozambique in 1997, President Mandela said:

The time for Africa’s renewal, for our continent to occupy the pedestal of the successful, has come to pass. Africa yearns and deserves to redeem her glory; to reassert her centuries-old contribution to economics, politics, culture and the arts, and once more to be a pioneer in the many fields of human endeavour.”

The convening of the Africa Investment Forum is but one of the many means by which we as African leaders seek to develop our continent, improve the conditions of her people, and enhance her prosperity.

In this we know we can count on the domestic and international business and investor community to work with us, side by side.

A strong prosperous Africa, driven by the energies of its citizens is in the interest – and reach – of us all.

I thank you.


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