President Cyril Ramaphosa: South Africa-Japan Business Forum

28 Aug 2019

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s remarks at the South Africa-Japan Business Forum in Yokohama, Japan 

Ladies and gentlemen, 

It’s my great pleasure to be back in Japan, on the occasion of the 7th TICAD Summit. 

Only two months ago, I met with a large group of Japanese executives at the G20 in Osaka, and your ongoing support demonstrates the vitality of the relationship between Japan, South Africa and the African continent. 

I am particularly grateful to our hosts this morning, Nissan. 

Nissan has long been a close partner of South Africa. 

Its history in our country stretches back to the 1960s and continues to this day, most notably with the company’s recent R3 billion investment in the production of a new Navara model. 

The TICAD Summit is a clear indication of the strength of the relationship between Japan and Africa. 

From a South African perspective, Japan is one of our most important partners. 

Japan is a leading investor in a number of South African sectors, ranging from automobiles to advanced mining machinery, and from agribusiness to financial services. 

This TICAD Summit is an excellent moment to reflect on how we can deepen our ties and move towards a future of shared prosperity for our countries. 

Africa is on the cusp of a new era. 

As we launch the implementation phase of the African Continental Free Trade Area, we are closer to our ambition of creating a free trade area stretching from Cape to Cairo. 

This will create one of the largest free trade blocs in the world, with a rapidly growing population of 1,3 billion people. 

Taken as a whole, Africa is already the world’s eighth largest economy and is set to expand rapidly over the coming decades. 

For many years, Africa was defined by political instability. 

Today, there are an increasing number of open and accountable governments that seek to support development. 

We share an untapped demographic boom, as populations across the continent grow larger, more urbanised and better educated. 

We share immense natural wealth, and incredible potential for the development of advanced manufacturing and services economies. 

Without doubt our development path will be long and complex. 

But the lesson of the development of the Asia-Pacific region must surely be that those who invest early and work to develop local capabilities stand to gain the most as underdevelopment gives way to a region of huge consumer markets and advanced productive hubs. 

The African Continental Free Trade Area will require world class infrastructure, and the continent is investing significantly in large, cross-border infrastructure projects. 

These includes projects as diverse as liquid natural gas fields in Mozambique, new ports and rail lines across Southern Africa, and pan-African iron and steel initiatives. 

The African Development Bank estimates that Africa needs to spend between $130 billion and $170 billion a year to meet its infrastructure needs. 

As these projects are realised, they will create new opportunities for investors. 

The investment potential of African projects is immense, but projects are too large and complex to be undertaken alone. 

South African firms have decades of experience working on the continent, and are ideally positioned to assist new and established investors in Africa. 

As the most diversified economy on the continent, South Africa has the skills, resources and manufacturing capability to help drive the development of productive infrastructure in Africa, and enable the participation of global partners like Japan. 

Our natural resource endowment – which includes some of the best grades of platinum, vanadium, nickel, copper and manganese – remains relevant for the green and sustainable economy of the future. 

As is our fast-developing renewable energy industry - which makes the prospect of beneficiation in the value chains for fuel cells, batteries and other emerging technologies - a commercial reality. 

The coming infrastructure revolution, combined with the Continental Free Trade Area, means that manufacturing in Africa is the best way to sell in Africa. 

African’s GDP is already US$3 trillion and is projected to be US$5 trillion by the end of 2030 , and a new generation of consumers will be looking to purchase automobiles, televisions, cellphones, food products and so much more. 

This consumer market gives manufacturers in South Africa and on the African continent an incredible base from which to develop. 

It offers a source of growth and development that, when combined with a competitive and low-cost environment for production, can be used to then extend the reach of manufacturing to the rest of the world. 

As the most advanced industrial economy on the continent, South Africa is well positioned to serve as the launch pad into Africa and the global market. 

We are taking steps to support investment and local manufacturing in our country. 

Last year, I launched our investment drive, which aims to attract US$100 billion in new investment over five years. 

This target is an ambitious one, and we realise that in order to achieve it we need to offer much support to investors. 

To assist in this effort, I appointed five Presidential Investment Envoys, including Ms Phumzile Langeni, who joins us today. 

The envoys are at the frontline of our investment drive and serve as one of the first points of contact in exploring opportunities in South Africa. 

Our investment promotion agency, Invest SA, offers a comprehensive package of support through their one-stop shops. 

These are a single point of contact that can assist with everything you need to invest in South Africa. 

Last year, we held the inaugural South Africa Investment Conference, at which South African and international companies together announced nearly US$20 billion in new investments. 

I would like to invite your companies to participate in our second Investment Conference, which is being held in Johannesburg on 5-7 November. 

It is a unique opportunity to see what other companies in South Africa are doing and what the country has to offer. 

We recognise that these support measures are only meaningful if we create a conductive environment for business to thrive. 

To that end, we have embarked on a number of initiatives aimed at creating what we call an Entrepreneurial State. 

This is a state that can work with the private sector to promote competitiveness and assure the success of our business partners.  

We are implementing a revitalised industrial policy, which will see more effective support to a wide range of sectors, from automotives to metals fabrication and renewable energy. 

We are hard at work reviewing our visa regime, to smooth access for businesspeople, and are undertaking key reforms to promote certainty in areas like mining and telecommunications. 

We continue to offer a comprehensive set of incentives and support measures, including a growing network of special economic zones, and targeted support for those investing in new infrastructure and new technologies. 

Our aim is to create quality jobs for our people and address the inequalities that we have inherited from our past and which continue to undermine inclusive economic growth. 

It is for this reason that we have pursued policies over the last 25 years that have sought to provide black South Africans with skills, assets and opportunities that were denied to them under apartheid. 

As we intensify these efforts – by, for example, refining our black economic empowerment policies and accelerating land reform – we continue to strengthen the rule of law, ensure regulatory certainty and offer extensive protections for investors. 

We ask those who come to South Africa to join us in building a fair and equal society and to recognise our vision of shared prosperity. 

With your support, we hope to extend that vision across the African continent. 

I thank you. 

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