President Cyril Ramaphosa has assured potential investors that South Africa is pulling out all the stops to ensure that the country comes out of the economic slump and moves into top gear as far as the economy is concerned.
“We want to move out of the low growth levels we have been in and move into top gear,” said the President on Wednesday.
The President made these remarks at the Goldman Sachs investor conference held at the Four Seasons Hotel, Westcliffe, Johannesburg.
Goldman Sachs is a leading global investment banking, securities and investment management firm that provides a wide range of financial services to a substantial and diversified client base that includes corporations, financial institutions, governments and individuals.
The conference brought together chief executive officers, chief information officers, chief financial officers and chairpersons of leading companies and financial institutions across all industry sectors from South Africa and other parts of the continent.
The engagement forms part of President Ramaphosa’s ambitious investment drive aimed at raising $100 billion in local and international investments over a five year period.
The Goldman Sachs’ conference comes just days after the 2019 general elections and takes place ahead of the second investment conference which is scheduled for later in 2019 as announced by President Ramaphosa during the State of the Nation Address (SONA) in February.
In an interactive session facilitated by Goldman Sachs Chief Executive Officer Colin Coleman, President Ramaphosa engaged on topics such as economic growth, challenges at the power utility – Eskom, youth unemployment and the land issue.
Challenges at Eskom
On the challenges at Eskom, the President highlighted management issues, a bloated staff and billions in debt as some of the challenges that need to be addressed.
“We have to work out a credible business plan to get Eskom out of the mess that it is in. We are not going to allow Eskom to fail because when Eskom fails the economy fails and the country fails.
“We have got to restructure Eskom. It is a valued national asset and we are not privatising Eskom, we are restructuring it. The elephant in the room is always going to be the debt,” he said.
Unemployment rate a concern
With the increase in the unemployment rate as released by Statistics South Africa on Thursday, the country’s unemployment rate now sits at 27.6%.
President Ramaphosa said this was a cause for concern particularly amongst the youth. He called on corporate South Africa to embrace young people, offer mentorship opportunities and make training more skills-focused.
On the land issue, President Ramaphosa assured investors that the land debate will be managed according to the South African Constitution.
“We will not allow land grabs. We will ensure that the process of land reform takes place orderly, with the revamping of the Expropriation Act,” said the President.
President Ramaphosa told potential investors that plans to address these challenges will be addressed at the next SONA.