Ramaphosa vows to make S.Africa destination of choice for doing business
Sunrise over Cape Town, South Africa. [Photo: World Economic Forum website]
President Cyril Ramaphosa vowed on Wednesday to make South Africa the destination of choice for doing business.
"We recognize the urgency with which we need to reform our investment promotion architecture to remove policy, regulatory and other impediments," Ramaphosa said at the Ease of Doing Business Seminar on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum (WEF) on Africa taking place in Cape Town.
The WEF on Afria offers a valuable platform to share insights on what is being done and what can still be done to improve South Africa's position as a global investment destination, Ramaphosa said.
He said his government has developed a roadmap with short, medium and long term goals and is actively engaging with organized business on reform action plans according to a number of key indicators like starting a business, property registration and taxation.
Ramaphosa said South Africa is trying to rise to top 50 in the World Bank's Ease of Doing Business Index.
South Africa currently ranks 82nd among 190 economies in the World Bank's index.
"While we may not see the results of our efforts immediately, this administration has set itself the ambitious goal of being in the top 50," Ramaphosa said.
To achieve this goal, the government will be expanding the One-Stop Shop approach to ensure that potential investors not be shunted between different departments and agencies in search of support and services, said the president.
Reform of the visa regime is ongoing and it is improving, he said.
The government will soon be piloting an e-visa program as part of its immigration modernization drive, Ramaphosa said.
A critical skills list is being developed to guide future plans to attract highly skilled immigrants, he said.
Measures to reduce the financial costs of doing business are already being implemented, with reduction in port and rail tariffs, added Ramaphosa.
Morever, the government has moved to clear up uncertainty in the policy space with the finalization of the Mining Charter and the release of the policy directive, he said.
In support of accelerated industrialization, South Africa is refining its industrial strategy to focus on a number of key growth sectors including renewable energy, agriculture, and oil and gas, according to Ramaphosa.
There is immense investment potential in economic infrastructure like energy plants, transportation, telecoms and fibre optics, he said.
The government has set aside 100 billion rand (about 6.76 billion U.S. dollars) over 10 years for a national Infrastructure Fund and will be working with private investors and international financial institutions to leverage further finance for infrastructure, Ramaphosa said.
More funds will be made available for the Expanded Public Works Program that provides work opportunities to millions of South Africans in labor-intensive sectors, he said.
Investing in South Africa is not just about securing decent returns but "also about staking a claim in the future of a great nation that has the means and the drive to become one of the world's most vibrant economies," said Ramaphosa.
He also announced that in just over two months' time, his country will be hosting the second South African Investment Conference as it works towards achieving the goal of securing 1.2 trillion rand in new investment.
South Africa hosted its first Investment Conference last year.