Established in 2018 under President Cyril Ramaphosa, the South African Investment Conference (SAIC) serves as a platform to promote multifaceted business cooperation and investment opportunities inside South Africa. The 4th edition comes on March 23-24 as investment plan to attract new investment to boost the economy and drive socio-economic development, at least, over the next 5 years.
It draws participants both the private and public sectors from the United States, Europe, Asia and inside Africa. In addition, international and regional institutions, development partners and think tanks come together to deepen dialogue, share experiences, insights on critical issues and policies influencing the economic partnership and discuss business opportunities to boost investment and sustainable development in South Africa.
The conference will be held at the Sandton Convention Centre and sessions will be livestreamed for an online audience. The conference plenaries and, of course, the panel sessions will highlight key economic recovery strategies and focused on a range of sectors and issues, including health and vaccine access, trade, digital transformation, infrastructure, financing, small and medium scale enterprises, tourism, women’s leadership and investment opportunities in South Africa.
Of significance, this year’s conference is happening as the country emerges from the pandemic. Despite this, government remains optimistic that a strong partnership with private sector will help galvanize economic growth. Among other objectives, the SAIC will profile the strengths and comparative advantages that South Africa offers to investors and trade partners in a period of growing African integration through the African Continental Free Trade Area.
Furthermore, South Africa is using this year’s conference as a platform to communicate the following key points:
- Positioning South Africa as a globally relevant player and partner in trade and investment that can compete with the best in the world.
- Showcasing South Africa’s capabilities and strategic importance in the region.
- Presenting the country’s economic recovery strategy and implementation.
- Strengthening South Africa’s position as an attractive destination for business, investment and tourism.
- Highlighting investment opportunities that have the potential to transform the economy and create employment opportunities.
- Emphasizing South Africa’s continued commitment to zero tolerance of corruption and tackling it in all sectors of society.
Setting significant expectations
Ebrahim Patel, Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition, reiterated that since launch in 2018, the South African Investment Conference (SAIC) has drawn delegates from South Africa and the rest of the world with the objective of showcasing the investment opportunities available that could lay down a comprehensive roadmap for building the future businesses in South Africa.
The economic policy aims primarily at sustaining growth and achieving a measure of industrial self-sufficiency. Therefore, South Africa continues offering unique opportunities for investments in the areas of economy and trade, in energy, agriculture, industry, science and technology, mining (world’s largest producer of platinum, gold, chromium), digital technology as well as human resource development and tourism.
“The efficiency of energy production and consumption is the most important factor in the growth of national economies and has a significant impact on people’s quality of life. Many countries have already adopted policies to accelerate the development of clean energy technologies. It is therefore set to look at the possibility of developing green energy based on renewable sources and the transition to new and more environmentally friendly fuels,” the conference document says.
While the three previously held conferences were described as highly successful due to its spectacular blistering high participation and has offered the necessary solid impetus for raising to qualitative level economic activities, it simultaneously presents a number setbacks and challenges too. As one of the tasks, the government and related ministries and departments will make efforts to overcome them.
Obviously, there has been adequate information on the vast investment opportunities available, and the platform “Doing Business with South Africa” helps to understand the economic and investment potentials as well as the current market conditions in South Africa.
As South Africa seeks to recover from the economic challenges exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic, tackling unemployment, poverty and inequality among others remains a key priority for government. It will therefore showcase the strengths and competitive advantages that South Africa offers and why it is an ideal investment destination for local as well international investors looking to grow in Africa.
Economic recovery through Investment Conference
Premier David Makhura has also stressed about the socioeconomic progress made in the pre-pandemic period and illustrate how these gains have been eroded by the coronavirus pandemic. “It is important to remember that for almost two years, humanity has been battling the public health emergency caused by the outbreak of the pandemic. Winning the battle against this pandemic and containing the spread of coronavirus became the number one priority of government and society in general,” he said in the State of the Province address.
In this context, it is necessary shifting focus and energies to tackle unemployment through economic recovery and reconstruction. The economy has been substantially been eroded, he noted, and indicated further “as we make the economy and jobs our number one priority in the coming years and to accelerate service delivery and improve access to housing, electricity, water, sanitation, road maintenance, visible policing, quality education and health.”
Between 2015 and 2020, the economic output of Africa was dominated by 3 countries, Nigeria, Egypt, and South Africa. Gauteng was the seventh-largest economy on the continent in that period and its contribution to South Africa’s GDP was more than 35%.
It also seeks to increase exports to the continent, to drastically reduce poverty and promote economic empowerment of those who continue to be excluded from the mainstream of the economy. This could be pursued through transformation, modernization and re-industrialization of the 10 high-growth sectors, which are linked to the rollout of the Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in the five corridors and the township economic revitalization.
South Africa as an investment destination
South Africa remains a popular destination for visitors from around the world due to its diversity, world-class infrastructure and positive global reputation. As one of the most sophisticated and promising emerging economies, the country offers a unique combination of highly developed economic infrastructure and a dynamic emerging economy.
Among the many opportunities is the expansion of infrastructure in the areas of transport, water, roads and electricity. For example, power generation is expected to grow by 6 800 MW in the medium term thanks to the procurement programme for independent power producers from renewable sources.
Furthermore, there is a special focus on the implementation of innovative technologies. This is evident in South Africa’s commitment to the implementation of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), as well as in the country’s highly developed information and communication technology (ICT) and electronics sectors.
South Africa offers an advanced telecommunications network and secure banking system. As a result, the country supports multinational companies to take advantage of opportunities in the country and the region.
Despite the extremely difficult economic environment in the last two years, investments in South Africa have been able to strengthen the energy, telecommunications, water, port and railway sectors. The government wants to continue to lower the cost of doing business in South Africa and encourage greater private investment in infrastructure development to drive the country’s transformation.
The establishment of 13 special economic zones across the country provides investors with targeted investment incentives, preferential tax rates and export support, as well as an attractive manufacturing base for multinational companies.
South Africa’s regional partnerships include participation in the Southern African Development Community, the Southern African Customs Union and the new African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). South Africa’s future is intertwined with that of the continent. The country continues to play an important role in Africa’s development and is committed to Africa’s prosperity.
Working with optimism
Referring to the fact that South Africa is alive with opportunities, Jeff Radebe, SAIC Presidential Envoy, noted there is high optimism that the various infrastructure development projects such as the construction of bulk water infrastructure, construction of new road networks, energy capacity expansion plans, improvement of port infrastructure among others, present great opportunities for sustainable as well as inclusive growth.
The South Africa Investment Conference provides an excellent opportunity to create a new crop of black industrialists, women including youth entrepreneurs who for long were consigned to the periphery of productive sectors of the economy.
Radebe reiterated “as we know, technology and digitization assist small, medium, and micro-enterprises (SMMEs) in accessing new markets. Other than increased access to broadband, we expect communication costs to come down, enabling a competitive positioning of our economy. Needless to remind, our country is endowed with abundant natural resources and renewable energy sources, ably positioning us to adopt the green revolution.”
In addition, he stressed: “our natural resources, the solar, wind, biomass for power generation – skills and technological capacities put us in a prime position to take the lead in the emerging hydrogen economy and the green hydrogen value chain for the benefit of our people. Our ultimate objective is to position our country as a leading supplier to the world green market.”
Since its launch, SAIC has raised R774 billion in investment pledges to date. This annual gathering of business titans and government leaders has always served to provide a reality check as to whether the private and public sectors are living up to their commitments in helping the country address the triple challenges of unemployment, poverty, and inequality.
Over the past few years, President Ramaphosa has emphasized on his country’s interest in enhancing economic policy that would attract more foreign investment and argued further for its consistent line of principle on supporting the efforts to find consensus-based solutions to the significant socio-economic issues of South Africa, and the entire southern Africa.
South Africa’s main trading partners include China, India, the United States, Europe and Japan. Regional trade in Southern Africa is increasingly important, especially through the Southern African Development Community. The current level of engagement still low, considering the combined size of the population and consumer market potentials of the southern region.
The market requires all kinds of consumer products and services. Besides, tourism is becoming increasingly important to South Africa’s economy. The country continues to relax cross-border financial regulations and tax requirements to allow South African-based companies to expand within Africa and support the continent’s growth.
South Africa is already working with a number of neighbouring countries to boost business, trade and investment. This regional partnership provides growth opportunities for foreign and intra-African investment. Therefore, the 4th edition of this prestigious gathering is scheduled for the 23-24th March in Johannesburg.
French-African Foundation Celebrates Achievements with Young Leaders from Africa
Placed under the high patronage of the President of the French Republic Emmanuel Macron and the President of the Republic of Rwanda Paul Kagame, the French-African Foundation will bring together the new class for a week in France in June 2023 and then a week in Rwanda for high level meetings, interactive training and privileged moments of professional and personal exchanges with leading Franco-African and international personalities from the political, economic, cultural, sports and associative spheres.
Young African leaders aged between 28 and 40 years in 2023, have also been chose based on competitive performance in various areas and who have commitment to African’s development. These young professionals have shown inclusive leadership that impacts on the community, country or region. Display of a privileged relationship with France and Africa.
This year, more than 2,000 young professionals from 53 African countries and France applied for the annual French-African Foundation’s Young Leaders programme, which aims to shine a light on outstanding individuals who are bridging the gap between the two regions. After several selection stages and hundreds of auditions conducted by an independent jury, 30 young leaders were selected for their commitment to boosting Africa-France relations.
“The 30 Young Leaders innovate daily in their activities and redraw the contours of thelink between France and Africa by helping it flourish in all areas. Taking into account the environmental, social, political and economic challenges shared by the two shores of the Mediterranean, the foundation is counting on these young people to help provide solutions, embody the relationship and develop it further. As a link between Africa and France, Marseille is the ideal city to launch this new class!” – quote from Nachouat Meghouar, CEO of the French African Foundation.
Quotes from three Young Leaders: “Today, thanks to digital innovation, women have the opportunity to emancipate themselves and develop new skills, whether they are in Los Angeles or in a remote region of Cameroon. This desire for equality but also for economic and social justice allows us to find common and sustainable solutions. This is what I wish to promote for France, Cameroon and the African continent,” Nelly Kambiwa, Cameroonian, CSR Director Sopra Banking.
“The future of cinema and audiovisual creation is in Africa! The African continent is full of talent and unique stories. Within the CANAL+ Group, I am very proud to support pan-African producers, actors, scriptwriters, directors and technicians in the creation of their television series. Ambitious dramas, shot in the four corners of the continent, are thus offered, under the CANAL+ Original label, to millions of viewers in Africa, in France and throughout the world. What a pleasure to participate in the promotion of African cultural excellence!” Anthony Koka, Franco-Congolese, Fiction Programme Advisor at CANAL+International
“I am Franco-Algerian and I want to be a solution for my two countries Algeria and France in their diplomatic relations. I think it is time to look forward and to draw a common future for our children. And I hope to help future generations by giving millions of French and African children a glimpse of the challenges of digital technology and more particularly of artificial intelligence through the projects we are carrying out with the start-up Evolukid, which I created seven years ago. These are powerful tools for imagining the world and also for meeting the technical needs of many public and private players.” Morad Attik, co-founder of the start-up Evolukid and founder of the Kesk’AI programme.
From war-torn Khartoum, Maha Dahawi, a doctoral student in genetics and Young Leader 2023, spoke out to express her support for the Sudanese people who are suffering from the war and the abuses carried out by the militias. In a poignant testimony, she called for hope in order to rebuild her divided country with her peers and shared her joy at joining the Young Leaders programme.
As part of their giving back to the society, and in the interest of contributing to the development of this great continent, young leaders identified different areas of interest under the broad theme of sustainable development in which they carried out activities including development-oriented projects and research to catalyze development of the continent of Africa.
It also involves playing useful roles in sustainable growth and development of their societies, by applying their skills, technical know-how, knowledge and experience to decipher things that may not be working properly in order to innovate ways for creating a change.
Double French and Rwandan patronage: After Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo in 2019 and Senegal’s President Macky Sall in 2021, this year’s French-African Foundation Young Leaders programme is under the dual patronage of Rwandan President Paul Kagame and French President Emmanuel Macron.
Rwanda Development Board Director General, Clare Akamanzi welcomed the new promotion to Rwanda; a privileged destination for tourism and international investments thanks to the gains in stability under the leadership of President Paul Kagame.
The French-African Foundation, an association created in 2019, aims to contribute to the emergence of a new generation of African and French leaders capable through their values and means of action, of meeting the economic, social and political challenges of the time. It further aims at identifying, bringing together and promoting high potentials in strengthening African and French relations.
The 2021 edition was placed under the High patronage of the French President of the Republic, His Excellency Emmanuel Macron and under the High Patronage of the Senegalese President of the Republic, Macky Sall, Senegal being the host country where the second edition took place. To find out more, visit the Foundation’s website: https://www.french-african.org/
BRICS FM Meeting in South Africa: Readiness for Expansion
At the Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) foreign ministers meeting in Cape Town early June, there were high expectations. The first on the agenda was International Criminal Court’s arrest warrant issued from The Hague for Russian President Vladimir Putin if he travels to the country. From historical perspectives, South Africa and Russia have close relationships from the time of the former’s political and liberation struggle, and with developments until it joined BRICS in 2010.
On the unofficial levels, Putin has worked out friendship with both former President Jacob Zuma and the current South African Cyril Ramaphosa. We know very well that this strategic relationship is (un)doubtlessly influencing politics between the two countries and of course, the two plus China in BRICS.
Putin is the target of an International Criminal Court (ICC) arrest warrant over accusations that Russia unlawfully deported Ukrainian children. A member of the ICC, Pretoria, which has close diplomatic ties with Moscow, would be expected to arrest Putin if he sets foot in the country.
The South African government previously drew international criticism in 2015, when it refused to execute an ICC arrest warrant for then-Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who had been indicted for war crimes and genocide, while he was attending a meeting of African leaders in Johannesburg. South Africa’s Supreme Court of Appeals ruled that the government had acted unlawfully and the ICC found that it had failed to failed to comply with its international obligations.
Reading further around reports which emerged from the foreign ministers meeting, there was the both local and foreign media, including Reuters, AP, AFP and Bloomberg said South Africa was now considering switching the venue of an upcoming summit of BRICS leaders to another country. This move that would resolve its dilemma over whether to execute an international arrest warrant for Putin. In fact one highly possibility is to task China to host the BRICS leaders summit in August.
But the Department of International Relations Minister Naledi Pandor’s spokesman, Lunga Ngqengelele, said that as things stand, the summit will be held in Gauteng province, where the commercial hub of Johannesburg and the capital, Pretoria, are situated. “As far as we are aware, we have announced the summit venue as Gauteng, South Africa. That is what we know as of today.” according to Lunga Ngqengelele.
Secondly, the BRICS foreign minister are concerned about new currency that could be used to dodge sanctions. The BRICS National Development Bank specially created bank to provide guidance on a how a potential new shared currency might work, including how it could shield other member countries from the impact of sanctions such as those imposed on Russia. The foreign ministers already discussed, at length, long before the meeting but how the bloc can win greater global influence and to challenge the United States still remained for future.
The BRICS are looking to “ensure that we do not become victims to sanctions that have secondary effects on countries that have no involvement in issues that have led to those unilateral sanctions,” Naledi Pandor, South Africa’s minister of international relations, told reporters after the meeting. Proposals are being considered by officials at the New Development Bank, the Shanghai-based lender created by BRICS nations, and the bloc “will be guided to them as to what the future models might be,” Pandor said, without providing further details.
Thirdly, plans for expansion. In fact, BRICS activities have expanded during the past few years. Countries participated in the Outreach and BRICS plus segments of the organization. There are also a number of African countries including Algeria, Egypt, Ethiopia, Nigeria and Senegal have also shown interest. Egypt has already been involved for a fairly long time. Last December 2022, Egypt, the decision on its accession to the New Development Bank was made by BRICS.
The prospect of adding more members was first raised at last year’s summit in China and 13 nations have formally asked to join, with at least seven others expressing interest. Now BRICS ministers were joined by counterparts from countries including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Kazakhstan. Also and with more than 20 countries aspiring to join. Asked about a meeting held with a Saudi Arabian delegation, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said only that the issue of the kingdom joining was discussed, amid broader talks about how the bloc should expand its membership.
Saudi Arabia’s potential accession to BRICS would bolster Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s attempts to diversify his nation’s economy, an effort that has bought it much closer to Russia and China in recent years. China is the kingdom’s most important oil customer, while it relies on relations with Russia to help prop up crude prices through OPEC+.
For the Gulf region, joining major trade blocks makes sense as countries seek to expand trade ties and develop as global transit hubs, a person familiar with Gulf thinking said. Plans to join have been in the works for a while and momentum has been building toward this point, the person said.
BRICS, which invited South Africa to join in 2010, has failed to punch its weight as a group. That’s despite its members representing more than 42% of the world’s population and accounting for 23% of global gross domestic product and 18% of trade, giving credence to demands for more sway.
South Africa believes that the bloc could be “transformative” representing those nations that wish to play a role in world affairs, ensuring benefit to the Global South. “BRICS has acquired a very important stature in the world, with many countries across various continents of our world seeking to be part of it,” South African President Cyril Ramaphosa told lawmakers in Cape Town.
South Africa has its own internal problems, deepening each passing day. The ANC is playing hard on its foreign relations with external Countries especially with Russia, the United States and Europe. The geopolitical tensions have added to worries about the impact on South Africa’s economic outlook from daily blackouts and logistical constraints that are hampering exports, with the rand falling to successive record lows over the past month.
South Africa, as per stipulated approved guidelines and rules, holds the rotating presidency of BRICS, the organization of five emerging developing countries made up of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. The BRICS is a model organization of genuine multilateral diplomacy. Its structure is formed in compliance with the 21st century realities.
From all indications BRICS is developing, the first meeting of the group began in St Petersburg in 2005. It was called RIC, which stood for Russia, India and China. Then later, Brazil joined and finally South Africa in February 2011, which is why now it is referred to as BRICS. The acronym BRICS is derived from the member-countries names in English. The BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) collectively represent about 26% of the world’s geographical area and about 42% of the world’s population
The Strategic Partnership between Eritrea and Russia
In this extremely poor Eritrea nation located in the Horn of Africa, with a population 3.6 million, what factors could attract to strengthen cooperation in the spheres highlight by the Russian President Vladimir Putin during a meeting with President of the State of Eritrea Isaias Afwerki at the Kremlin. According to reports that emerged from the Kremlin on May 31, Putin made reference to the fact that Eritrea has recently marked 30 years of its independence. This was when two countries established diplomatic relations too.
Russia is attracted due to its highly strategic location. Eritrea is bordered to the northeast and east by the Red Sea, Sudan to the west, Ethiopia to the south, and Djibouti to the southeast. The undemarcated border with Ethiopia is the primary external issue currently facing Eritrea. Geopolitical history informed us that Eritrea’s relations with Ethiopia turned from that of cautious mutual tolerance, following the 30-year war for Eritrean independence, to a deadly rivalry that led to the outbreak of hostilities from May 1998 to June 2000 that claimed approximately 70,000 lives from both sides.
Despite the differences between Ethiopia and Eritrea, Russia maintains good relations with the two. But the main significance as stressed during the meeting was trade and economic relations which deserve primary attention. There could only be a few, of course not a lot, of potential in many areas. From our studies, agriculture makes up 11 percent of the wider economy’s value, and is the main economic activity in Eritrea.
In 2013, the pickup in growth had been attributed to the commencement of full operations in the gold and silver Bisha mined by Canadian Nevsun Resources, the production of cement from the cement factory in Massawa and investment in Eritrea’s copper and zinc. Chinese are very active in the mining sector and the Australians operate Colluli potash mining. In 2020, the IMF estimated Eritrea’s GDP at $2.1 billion.
With that economic background however, Russia sees an opportunity to develop trade and economic ties between the two countries. “Of course, we must first of all pay attention to the development of trade and economic ties, here we have good prospects in many areas,” Putin said.
As expected, there was a display passion for packing official documents. After series of substantive consultations on partnership and intensive preparations between Asmara and Moscow, the delegation signed several intergovernmental agreements. “I am sure that our talks today will be successful and will benefit the development of relations between the Russian Federation and Eritrea,” Putin stressed.
The trade turnover between Russia and Eritrea in 2022 amounted to $13.5 mln, including $11.5 mln from wheat exports, according to materials for the talks between Putin and Isaias Afwerki in the Kremlin.
“The trade turnover between Russia and Eritrea in 2022 amounted to $13.521 mln (exports: $12.745 mln, including $11.5 mln – wheat (27,500 tons); imports: $776,000),” the statement said.
In 2021, the trade turnover between the two countries amounted to $9.314 mln. Exports of wheat amounted to $8.125 mln, oil products – $175,000, sulfates – $888,000. At the same time, imports of ready-made clothes reached $126,000.
According to the statement, Eritrea is highly interested in strengthening ties with Ural Automobile Plant and Kamaz. In 2018, Kamaz delivered 56 cars and 5 buses valued around $5 mln to Eritrea.
“In my view, the global order, which is on the cusp of a radical transformation, requires objective appraisal and mutual consultations on the timeless subject matter and phenomena of paramount importance and significance. The common assessment that we undertake will, in turn, revitalise the formulation of programmes and partnership that we chart on,” Isaias Afwerki said during the meeting.
Isaias Afwerki believes that the Russia was the primary competitor and rival of the policy of encirclement and containment by the forces of domination from the early 1990s, and its global impact in the past 30 years was considerable indeed. Russia too, did not undertake, at the outset, all the necessary preparations for effective resistance.
An integrated and comprehensive strategy of resistance was not accordingly set in motion. But with time, and as the latent policy of containment against China becomes more transparent, international awareness of the free peoples has increased.
“It is imperative to expand and deepen this awareness, chart out a comprehensive strategy and concrete plans that encompass all fields, create dynamic mechanisms, marshal the necessary resources so as to ascertain the advent of and transit to a civilised international order of mutual respect, cooperation, complementarity and prosperity, where justice and the rule of law prevail. This is not an option but an obligation,” he explicitly pointed out to Putin.
It is important to remind here that Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov visited Eritrea in January 2023. He said the agenda for Russia-Eritrea cooperation has a key focus on the implementation of potential joint projects, including the logistics hub in Asmara. At a meeting at that time, Afwerki and Lavrov also discussed the radical changes in the international situation and key directions for the development of Russian-Eritrean relations. Lavrov reported to Putin about the results of his African tour at a Security Council meeting.
Afwerki has been president since 1993 when Eritrea gained independence from Ethiopia. He is the first and the only person to hold the post so far. Sergey Lavrov visited Eritrea in January as he toured Africa. The commercial activities revolve around this strategic location as a transit point and the strategic location also makes the country prime for an increased military presence. This is the strategic importance for Russia.
Lavrov spoke extensively about economic cooperation. According to him, Russia’s truck maker KAMAZ was already working in Eritrea, supplying its products to that country, as was Gazprombank Global Resources, which was building cooperation in the banking sector. The same year 2018, concrete talks were held to build a logistics centre at the port of Eritrea, that makes world’s class logistics and services hub for maritime transportation through the Suez Canal and definitely set to promote bilateral trade.
Still that same year, Eritrea was interested in opening a Russian language department at one of the universities in the capital of the country, Asmara. Lavrov further indicated: “We agreed to take extra measures to promote promising projects in the sphere of mining and infrastructure development and to supply specialized transport and agricultural equipment to Eritrea.”
In April 2022, Eritrea’s top diplomat, Osman Saleh, made a quick reciprocal visit to Moscow to recieve an honor and congratulations for opposing resolution in New York. That was in March 2022, Eritrea was one of the countries who voted against the resolution condemning Russia over the situation in Ukraine at the United Nations.
Eritrea is now a member of the African Union. The Eritrean government previously withdrew its representative to the African Union to protest the AU’s alleged lack of leadership in facilitating the implementation of a binding border decision demarcating the border between Eritrea and Ethiopia. Eritrea is also a member of the United Nations.
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