Investment ... investment ... investment.
This will be the mantra as President Cyril Ramaphosa arrives in the UK today ahead of his address at the Financial Times (FT) Africa Summit 2019 tomorrow.
The president is expected to lead a powerful business delegation whose key mission will be to drum up more investment support to achieve higher rates of economic growth for an economy that has been shedding instead of creating jobs.
Job creation has been at the centre of the ANC-led government since 1994 and this was no different when Ramaphosa ascended to power in the last general election in May.
The visit by the president comes on the back of the recent appointment of the presidential economic advisory council, comprising economists and technical experts drawn from academia, the private sector, labour and other constituencies.
The business community in the UK are enthusiastically looking forward to hearing President Ramaphosa’s address at the FT summit.
South Africa’s high commissioner to the UK, Thembi Tambo
Made up of heavyweights – such as Dani Rodrik, professor of international political economy at the John F Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University; Renosi Mokate, a former deputy governor of the SA Reserve Bank; and Thabi Leoka, an independent economist and nonexecutive director of SA Express – the council held its inaugural meeting this week and is expected to have advised Ramaphosa on the specifics of his messaging during his interactions with the captains of London’s Square Mile, the financial district of the UK.
A part of this messaging will most certainly speak to the need to build on the Baa3 rating that the country has on Moody’s Investors Service.
Moody’s is the only major ratingcompany still to assess South Africa’s debtat investment grade.
S&P Global Ratings and Fitch Ratings cut their assessments to “junk” in 2017.
Already investment bank Renaissance Capital is predicting a downgrade to junk in early November immediatelyafter Finance Minister Tito Mboweni delivers the medium-term budget policy statement on October 30.
Asked by City Press if he would be a part of the trip to the UK, Mboweni replied: “No, I am not. I have to stay at home to finalise the medium-term budget statement. There is still a lot of work to be done.”
Ramaphosa will deliver the keynote address at the summit, one of the leading meetings on the economics of Africa outside the continent.
Speaking to City Press ahead of the visit, South Africa’s high commissioner to the UK, Thembi Tambo, said the presidential visit was not only geared towards soliciting investment but was also one of the highlights of a positive and constructivespirit that has swept through the country in recent times.
I have no doubt his address will be inspirational, accessible and relevant to the challenges of our times
“The business community in the UK are enthusiastically looking forward to hearing President Ramaphosa’s address at the FT summit. He has a very clear and strategic vision of where he expects to see South Africa in the coming years.
“The success of his 2018 investment summit in Sandton, South Africa, his consistent messaging on issues dealing with entrepreneurs, the youth and women has created an environment where the “yes, we can” mentality has taken root.
“I have no doubt his address will be inspirational, accessible and relevant to the challenges of our times,” said Tambo.
The small business development department and Brand SA are expected to play their part in adding to the investment mantra by managing activation stands at the summit.
Other South Africans on the speakers’ list include Johann Rupert, the chairperson of Remgro and Mmete Petrus Fusi, the chief executive of Transnet International Holdings.
Emphasising the relevance of the president’s visit to his role as an African leader, Pumela Salela, the UK country head for Brand SA, said: “The FT Africa Summit comes at an opportune time for South Africa. The president ... will assume the chairmanship of the African Union(AU) in 2020.
“His participation in the FT summit, particularly as a keynote address, will serve to illustrate South Africa’s readiness to implement the AU’s Agenda 2063.”
First on his itinerary is the summit’s gala dinner to be held this evening.