Executives at the South African Investment Conference in Johannesburg urged the country to urgently address energy, transport, and security issues with reversing deteriorating investor sentiment, as reported by Reuters on 13 April. President Cyril Ramaphosa aims to attract ZAR 2 trillion ($111 billion) in new investments over the next five years. The conference, launched in 2018, aims to boost economic activity that had declined for over a decade in Africa’s most advanced but struggling economy.
Mismanagement and corruption at state-owned firms, including Eskom and Transnet, have affected ports and road transport, hurting efficiency and reducing investor appetite. In his speech, Ramaphosa acknowledged the consequences of underinvestment and corruption in the electricity and rail sectors, promising to work with the private sector to eliminate investment stumbling blocks.
Emrie Brown, CEO of financial services holding company Rand Merchant Bank, noted that rising production costs due to the country’s challenges concerned the firm’s clients. Duncan Wanblad, CEO of Anglo American, stated that several quick wins were necessary to change negative investor sentiment.
South Africa’s worst-ever power cuts, which last up to ten hours a day, have left businesses and households in the dark. The South African Reserve Bank believes these blackouts have cut at least two percentage points from growth.
Ramaphosa will aim to fulfil his government’s reform pledges as he campaigns for a second term as president in next year’s national elections.
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