By Joe Bavier
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) -South Africa is close to reaching a five-year target for new investment, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Thursday as he sought to drum up further backing for the pandemic hobbled economy.
In 2018 soon after coming to power, Ramaphosa set a goal to raise 1.4 trillion rand – or around $100 billion at the exchange rate at the time – to revitalise Africa’s most developed economy following repeated recessions and years of anaemic growth.
The global pandemic, which temporarily shuttered swathes of the economy and helped push unemployment rates to record levels, has complicated those efforts. But speaking to an investment conference in Johannesburg, Ramaphosa said South Africa nonetheless remained an attractive investment destination.
“You see opportunities in this country. You see beyond the difficulties and the challenges,” he told investors. “Your investments are making a difference in our country and our local communities.”
The conference, which in part aims to sell foreign companies on South Africa’s potential, brought in a total of 332 billion rand ($22.83 billion), bringing the total of new investment since 2018 to 1.14 trillion rand.
“We’ve now reached 95% of the ambitious target we set ourselves four years ago,” Ramaphosa said.
MANUFACTURING, MINING, VACCINES
Ford Motor Co has committed 16.4 billion rand that would enable it to produce its next generation Ranger pick-up in South Africa.
Mining companies, which were benefiting from favourable market conditions even before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sent prices soaring, are also boosting their South African operations.
Anglo American plans to expand an existing 100 billion rand investment to put an additional 10 billion rand into the country this year. And Impala Platinum pledged 11.8 billion rand to develop new mining and processing capacity.
With the pandemic, South Africa has sought to position itself as a vaccine manufacturing hub for the vastly underserved African continent, attracting investment from Pfizer and South Africa’s Biovac Institute and Aspen Pharmacare.
Netflix Inc meanwhile is investing 929 million rand for television and film production in South Africa’s Gauteng and Western Cape provinces.
The African Development Bank (AfDB) is committing $2.8 billion over the next five years to support private sector investment in agriculture, renewable energy, transport, youth employment, health and vaccine manufacturing.
The bank is already supporting South Africa’s struggling state-owned companies, and is currently preparing a $400 million loan package to assist coal-dependent power utility Eskom’s transition to renewable energy.
($1 = 14.5431 rand)
(Reporting by Joe Bavier; Editing by Toby Chopra, Kirsten Donovan and Jonathan Oatis)