SouthAfrica.info (Johannesburg)

7 August 2012

South Africa: Call for U.S. to Invest in South Africa

Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba, speaking at the inaugural South Africa-United States business summit in Johannesburg on Monday, called on the US to invest in South Africa as it embarked on a state-led infrastructure drive that would transform the country's economic landscape.

The summit is being held in conjunction with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's four-day visit to South Africa. Clinton arrived in the country on Monday, and was scheduled to join International Relations and Co-operation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane in hosting the second annual US-South Africa Strategic Dialogue meeting in Pretoria on Tuesday.

Gigaba said that South Africa was keen to work with the US "to make direct investments into the South African economy and to develop South African companies to become part of your global supply chains.

"We do not want you only to buy from South African companies for the South African market, we want to see these companies exporting into the regional and global market through your supply chains."

'Game-changing' infrastructure projects

Gigaba told the forum that South Africa's state-owned companies, including Eskom and Transnet, had started to implement major new plans to develop South Africa's infrastructure.

"We have begun to witness state-owned companies embarking on long-term-planning and moving beyond their balance sheets to invest in game-changing projects.

"Should we implement the capital investment we have identified and approved, I believe South Africa's economic landscape will have been significantly transformed in the [next] eight years."

He said that transport and logistics parastatal Transnet had expanded its capital expenditure budget from R110-billion over five years to over R300-billion over seven years.

Electricity parastatal Eskom, meanwhile, was projected to spend over R330-billion in the next five years.

'A lot more than just stimulating demand'

"We are doing a lot more than just stimulating demand ... [we] are driving programmes that will put in place the infrastructure, skills and the industrial and technological capacity to drive our future economy."

The projects, which were spearheaded by President Jacob Zuma through the presidential infrastructure co-ordinating commission, would focus on the country's roads, railways, electricity supply, information and communication technology, and dams.

"The strategic, integrated projects identified by the commission will change South Africa's apartheid spatial patterns and redirect capital investments to areas hitherto neglected ... [and create] the possibility for domestic and regional trade by, among others, promoting regional economic integration," Gigaba said.

The implementation of the projects would require co-ordination between the different state-owned companies, government departments and the private sector, Gigaba said, adding that his department would establish a dedicated office to monitor and provide support for the roll-out of the infrastructure projects.

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