By John Fraser
It won’t be a non-event, but ‘SA Investment Conference 3’ – with a masked hero in the form of our beloved President – will see little fresh flow of dosh into Cyril’s begging bowl.
Through no fault of our government – although I still have my doubts about their bosom buddies in Beijing – the world is a very different place with the Covid-19 epidemic sweeping through global boardrooms. More cash for a new factory in SA may not be front of mind of many CEOs at the moment.
Despite this, the Minister for Conferences Ebrahim Patel gave a performance which was more plucky than plucked when this Covid veteran met the media in the flesh today for the first time in many, many months. Many, many, many, many months.
Ok, there were only about three of we hacks in the room with him, with most following it from their bedrooms, bureaux or brothels – but at least he was there. I was able to go up to him and shout for a while afterwards about his department’s communications failings. It felt good. And we both practiced safe Covid.
His message is that with a cumulative R664bn having been pledged at the previous two conferences, out of a total target to R1.2trillion, we have been ahead of target. So less pressure this time, and expectations can be lowered without the whole project being derailed.
There will be some fresh pledges this time round, the President can rub elbows with some corporate fat cats. But the main focus will be on moving previous pledges into actual projects.
Patel said R170bn of the already-pledged investment is already “flowing through the pipeline”. The main task this month is to ensure the investment tide does not go out again. Not allowing all the other precious pledges to vanish down the Presidential plug-hole.
Patel says there have been no cancellations – and we must take him at his word – that the imminent AfCFTA continental clone of the EU will bring wealth and investment opportunities, and that the 2-day Investment Conference will allow SA to show the world that the door is open. We want your investment. A lot.
Just wash your hands, wear a mask, and give your cheques a good spray of sanitiser before you hand them over.
Patel and Cyril will be gratefully, gleefully grinning behind their masks. We promise.
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