Ramaphosa Woos Investors From Top German Firms

South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa has commended German business leaders for their continued engagement with his country.

Speaking at the G20 Compact with Africa (CwA) on Thursday Ramaphosa pledged his government would sustain economic reforms aimed at facilitating greater investment.

Foreign investment is key to addressing poverty, unemployment, and inequality in South Africa.

Ramaphosa made his remarks while participating in a CEO roundtable in Berlin, under the auspices of the German-African Business Association.

He had a two-hour engagement with senior executives of leading German firms with a presence in South Africa, which accounts for half of that country’s investment in Africa.

Ramaphosa is on a working visit to the Federal Republic of Germany at the invitation of Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The G20 CwA was initiated under the G20 German Presidency in 2017 to promote private investment into the African continent.

Twelve African countries have joined the initiative. They include Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Morocco, Rwanda, Senegal, Togo and Tunisia.

South Africa, which is the only African member of the G20, co-chairs the initiative alongside Germany.

The Berlin meetings include a G20 Investment Summit, as well as a separate meeting of Heads of State and Heads of Government, where discussions will take place on ways in which to improve the business environment and increase investment in Africa.

“The conference will also discuss vaccine production in Africa, which is key to enabling African countries to build back stronger, faster and more inclusively, and ensuring that the post-pandemic African economies become more resilient and equitable,” said the SA Presidency.

At the business roundtable, Ramaphosa engaged with the leadership of BASF, Bayer, B Braun, Bosch, Enertrag, HSH Software and Hardware, Hensolt, Lufthansa Consulting, Mühlbauer ID Services, SEON, Siemens, Siemens Energy, SUNFarming, Veridos and Volkswagen.

German investment in South Africa ranges from global industrial giants that have been active in the country for more than a century, to a start-up whose first venture outside Germany is in South Africa.

Ramaphosa addressed the CEOs as “friends of South Africa” and welcomed “your commitment to continue investing in South Africa”.

He said structural reforms initiated by the government in areas such as energy, infrastructure, telecommunications and rail and ports were designed at enabling investors to operate even more effectively in the South African market.

“Chief executives assured the president of their continued interest in South Africa as a market in its own right and as a gateway to other African economies, and provided feedback on current operations as well as investment plans,” the Presidency said.

“A number of the business leaders expressed their interest in South Africa’s just transition from carbon-based energy sources to planet-friendly alternatives.

“Executives indicated how this transition could spawn new industries and opportunities for smaller businesses that would entail a new skills base for the country and create new jobs.

“Business leaders also indicated their interest in digital transformation in South Africa, including such areas as digital identity management, digital identities as well as vaccination passport solutions.”

The Presidency said other proposals include renewable energy generation which can be pursued alongside agriculture and unlock new entrepreneurial activity, and ventures in agritech, where technology and technological innovation enable greater production efficiency and food security.

“Executives briefed the president on their corporate rollout of vaccination for staff and broader communities; their uptake of the Youth Employment Service, and skill development in a variety of sectors,” said the Presidency.

“The president welcomed the prospects of expanded investment, transfers of knowledge and technology, greater employment in existing industries, and the creation of jobs for the economy of the future.”