Investment get-together shows promise

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A gathering to make Cyril smile

By John Fraser

The President’s Investment conference, which will be held at the end of next week in Sandton, is expected to eclipse the recent, rather underwhelming, Jobs Summit.

Unlike that event, which saw most of the cabinet stiffly sitting in a row while others waffled on (and on), the government team looks poised to do some actual work next week.

Economic Affairs minister Ebrahim Patel told a rather poorly-attended media briefing, Thursday, that he expects a number of announcements of new investment plans next Friday, which seems to be staged as a showcase for SA, an exercise to show that – despite all the negatives – people are still prepared to start new operations in SA.

And there are negatives aplenty – the land seizure issue, inadequate labour skills and worker unrest, crime, corruption, the challenges of meeting ever-tighter BEE rules, little worth watching on SABC……

However, Patel was playing the good cop – admitting that tough questions will need to be answered.

Moving away from the endless waffle of the Jobs Summit, the Investment Conference will have a series of focused discussions on specific sectors where investment is being most sought – agroprocessing, advanced manufacturing, ICT, mining, infrastructure. And a few others.

Lots of visitors from big corporations, both local and global. Lots of face-to-face discussions.

Patel said a key focus will be to tackle obstacles to investment, so that these can be dealt with, where practicable.

He suggested a “single market-place” will be the theme, comparing it to Davos, where a lot of movers and shakers, politicians and businesspeople, are in the same place at the same time.

He also promised that this is not a one-off, but part of a continuing process.

So expect some headlines on progress towards Ramaphosa’s goal of securing $100bn in new investment.

And if it does get boring, delegates will have the comfort of knowing that in the same Sandton Convention Centre, the big wine tasting party Winex will be underway.

A great retreat to which they can escape, where we really do show the world that when we put our minds to it, SA can shine. With wine.

Make mine a magnum, please Gladys.

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