Nice one (again) Cyril, as interest builds in October’s investment extravaganza

By Alec Hogg

During February’s State of the Nation address, South African newly minted president Cyril Ramaphosa put foreign investment at the centre of his economic recovery strategy, promising “to organise an Investment Conference in the next three months.”

In April, he pushed the date out to October, compensating by announcing a five year target of $100bn and sending four emissaries (Manuel, Maree, Jonas and Langeni) to scour the globe for support. His four lions have operated under the radar, but seem to have done their job rather well.

Two weeks ago Ramaphosa announced during a visit to the Middle East he’d received pledges of $10bn each from Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Yesterday Chinese premier Xi Jinping, in SA on a previously unscheduled State Visit, pledged $14.7bn. These investments are equivalent to a chunky 12% of GDP – or four and a bit years of economic growth at the current rate.

The announcements were  high on hype and low on detail. But that’s all part of the show. On the one hand, holding back the nitty gritty until October’s extravaganza will boost interest in the event. On the other, setting a minimum base of $10bn is a useful benchmark to encourage South Africa’s other friends. Nice one, again, Cyril.