South African president expects investment to boost employment

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CAPE TOWN, Nov. 11 (Xinhua) -- President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Monday that around 412,000 direct jobs and a significant number of indirect jobs will be created through investment in the next five years.

The president disclosed that domestic and foreign companies had committed a total amount of 363 billion rand (about 24.5 billion U.S. dollars) of investment at the second investment conference held in Johannesburg last week.

"The total value of investment commitments made this year has vastly exceeded our expectations," Ramaphosa said in his weekly address from the Desk of the President.

In April last year, Ramaphosa announced an ambitious plan to raise 1.2 trillion rand (about 81 billion dollars) in new investment over five years, with the aim of boosting the rate of investment in the economy, which had been declining over several years.

"Not surprisingly, there was a fair amount of skepticism about our ability to succeed in raising this amount of investment," said Ramaphosa.

At its first investment conference held in October last year, South Africa secured 300 billion rand (about 20 billion dollars) in commitments.

Already, these commitments are turning into investments in factories, equipment and new jobs, Ramaphosa said.

With the total investments committed at the first and second investment conferences, South Africa is moving closer to achieve the goal of raising 1.2 trillion rand over five years, the president said.

By far the most exciting development at the investment conferences was the increase in the commitments from South African businesses, Ramaphosa said.

At last year's investment conference the total amount committed by local companies was just over 157 billion rand (about 10.6 billion dollars), and this amount has climbed to 262 billion rand (about 18 billion dollars) in 2019, according to Ramaphosa.

The investment covers projects in areas like auto manufacturing, mineral beneficiation, renewable energy, agro-processing and oil and gas, he said.

Local businesses are the vanguard of the investment drive, and the scale of commitments made shows they have truly stepped up to the challenge, said Ramaphosa.

"We are immensely encouraged that our home-grown businesses want to be part of not only economic growth but of advancing an inclusive economy," he said.

The aim of the investment drive is not only to create jobs but also to create other economic opportunities as businesses are established to produce and supply products and services, said Ramaphosa.

"Putting more money into our economy creates more jobs for our people, results in much needed knowledge and skills transfer, supports local SMMEs (small, micro and medium enterprises) and boosts local productio," the president said.

Since assuming office last year, Ramaphosa has been engaging with business on a number of platforms to ask them to re-invest back into the South African economy.

"I'm greatly encouraged that many heeding the call" as there has been a noteworthy shift, Ramaphosa said.

Figures released by Statistics South Africa show a six-percent increase in gross fixed capital formation in the second quarter of this year, following five consecutive quarters of decline. Enditem

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