South Africa, Durban – KWAZULU-NATAL business leaders and government officials who addressed the provincial leg of the third SA Investment Conference at Dube Trade Port highlighted the strengths of and challenges facing the province, which secured multibillion-rand development commitments at the main conference at the Sandton Convention Centre yesterday.
KZN Finance MEC Nomusa DubeNcube said her department would support municipalities to ensure they played their role to realise the infrastructure needed for the projects.
“With more mega projects, especially with respect of those driven by the public and private sector, we realise there is an important role professional bodies and professionals will need to play to enhance the skills set to match the demands of companies investing in our province – so we don’t have problems when they come and invest,” Dube-Ncube said.
KZN Premier Sihle Zikalala said the country was faced with structural unemployment because people did not have the skills required by industry.
“The growth of unemployment poses a risk to social stability and without enhancing employability we are going to have a challenge. Government must put in policies that relate to localisation and enforcing BEE.
“We can’t have companies producing goods in the country and have companies importing the same products,” he said.
KZN Growth Coalition co-chairperson Moses Tembe said low-income-level workers had suffered disproportionately due to the lockdown.
Tembe said it was vital to “get the basics right” and to ensure the security and safety of all citizens, including immigrants.
“The culture of ill-discipline must be addressed; business stoppages and highway stoppages must be addressed. Our policy reforms have to be aligned to proven economic models that take our country forward,” he said.
Meanwhile, President Cyril Ramaphosa’s ambitions to attract R1.2 trillion worth of investment into South Africa’s economy over five years were derailed yesterday as South Africa’s 3rd Investment Conference drew the lowest monetary pledges since the annual investment drive was initiated three years ago.
More than 50 companies pledged new investments worth R109.6 billion into the country’s struggling economy due to disruption in activity caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
President Ramaphosa said that as a result of the economic disruption, the government would focus on the implementation of the investment commitments that had already been made in the past. He said the government had been closely tracking the implementation of the 102 projects announced at the last two conferences, with R172bn of the committed amount spent on projects to date. “We have embarked on a mission of economic reconstruction and recovery, building on the successes of attracting investment we have achieved over the past two years,” Ramaphosa said. “At this year’s conference we want to consolidate the commitments that have been made to date.”
Ramaphosa also moved to reassure investors of his government’s commitments to accelerate critical reforms, such as lowering energy cost and expanding the allocation of high-demand spectrum to grow the economy. “We are rapidly expanding our generation capacity, which will see a substantial increase in the contribution of renewable energy sources, battery storage and gas technology,” he said.
“We will complete the allocation of high-demand spectrum by March 2021 to enable new investment in our telecommunications infrastructure and open the way for a digital economy.”
Anglo American committed an increase of R15bn of investment in sustaining, expanding and extending the lives of all of its businesses in South Africa, bringing its total investment commitment to R100bn for the current five-year period until 2022.
Anglo’s chairperson Nolitha Fakude said they welcomed the government’s efforts in creating a conducive environment to attract investment for all sectors. “We will continue to work in partnership with government, labour and other social partners to tackle the challenges that inhibit growth, and work to build a brighter future for South Africa post Covid-19,” Fakude said.
Naspers committed to driving increased growth in South Africa’s technology sector through a R45 million investment in the online learning platform, The Student Hub, bringing the total investments to approximately R200m since its launch in 2019.
Naspers South Africa chief executive Phuthi Mahanyele-Dabengwa said they believed that tech companies had the potential to be the cornerstone of South Africa’s economic growth.
“Our investment in The Student Hub is an example of how digitalisation has the potential to address unequal access to education, create local opportunities, and enable increased participation towards a more inclusive economy,” she said.
The province drew its fair share of investment commitments this year, including the following :
- Metair, R1.1 billion in KZN, the Eastern Cape, and Gauteng.
- Thukela Lifestyle Resort, R1.4bn.
- Provenance, R100 million.
- Mnambithi Terminals, R1.3bn.
- Frimax Foods, R380m.
- United Heavy Industries, R300m.
- R Jurgens Construction, R8.4bn.
- Really Epic Dog Group ( The Homestead), R200m.
- Blythedale Coastal Resort, R800m.
- Port Shepstone Developments, R550m.