With South Africa halfway to meeting its target of achieving R1.2 trillion in investments, this year’s annual South Africa Investment Conference will not only push for more investment but will also take stock of the progress in implementation.
The 2020 instalment of the Investment Conference will be held in Sandton, Gauteng, from 17-18 November 2020.
“We have had about R664 billion of investment that was pledged in the first two conferences that were convened. Of course, COVID-19 has impacted on the investment climate and on economic performance and global markets, and we now need to address that.
“This conference is an opportunity to assess what progress we have made with getting that R664 billion from an idea in the mind of an investor, to the point where bricks and mortar hit the ground,” said Trade, Industry and Competition Minister Ebrahim Patel, on Monday.
Patel, who was joined by the President’s Economic Advisor, Trudi Makhaya, was speaking during a media briefing on the preparations for the conference.
This year’s conference comes as countries around the world continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, with Foreign Direct Investment (FDIs) projected to drop by 40%, according to the United Nations 2020 World Investment report.
“For South Africa, our intention is to use the opportunity of the investment conference to showcase new possibilities and opportunities in South Africa…
“We are in an environment globally where sentiment is very low, where that pause button is pressed by many investors. We want to make sure that South Africa stands out in terms of the opportunities available,” said Patel.
Two critical opportunities that will be punted, Patel highlighted, are the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan recently announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa.
The AfCFTA agreement will create the largest free trade area in the world measured by the number of countries participating. The pact connects 1.3 billion people across 55 countries, with a combined gross domestic product (GDP) valued at R7 trillion.
“The conference will be an opportunity to highlight this and to engage investors because when you have a much bigger market, you no longer suffer the problems of scale. Small markets mean very little production run and you just produce for tiny markets, and your cost structure is high — and that is the advantage the Asian, European and North American producers have. They have these massive markets. So we are trying to replicate scale to bring investors to the continent,” said Patel.
Allaying fears of hosting the conference during a pandemic, Patel said government decided to hold the conference, as it is critical to the country’s efforts to rebuild the economy.
“We decided to proceed because although these are challenging times, we are now shifting our focus to economic recovery and to reconstruction, and investment plays a critical role,” said the Minister.
President Ramphosa will officially open day one of the conference on 17 November. Following the President’s opening, the conference will enter into focused sector level discussion in the form of plenaries.
Discussions will engage on opportunities in the agriculture value chain, energy constraints, manufacturing, digital economy, rebuilding small businesses and tourism markets amongst others.
In light of the COVID-19 regulations, Makhaya said there will be a limited number of guests, with much of the conference hosted through virtual platforms.
The first day of the event will be a purely virtual event with the second day taking on a hybrid format.
“We expect attendance to be down by 90% not because we are not successful this year but because want to meet the COVID-19 regulations that are in force.
“The good thing with the virtual-physical hybrid is that we are able to accommodate a much broader global audience online. So far, we have over a 1 000 delegates, who have registered and we expect much more than that. The conference will also be broadcast by the SABC,” she said.