Tue, 17 Dec 2019

Despite business confidence figures languishing at multi-year lows, President Cyril Ramaphosa says that business people are telling him they are more hopeful about investing.

The president dedicated his weekly newsletter to the second annual investment conference which he presided over last week in Sandton.

The conference is part of a drive he announced last year to attract $100bn (R1.2bn at the time) in new investments over five years to boost SA's struggling GDP growth rate and create jobs. According to National Treasury, SA's economy is expected to grow by only 0.5% this year. SA's official unemployment rate, meanwhile, rose to 29.1% in October.

Ramaphosa wrote in his weekly "from the desk of the president" letter that, that he had seen a "noteworthy shift".

"At one recent engagement, several business people told me they believed the tide has turned on poor business confidence," he wrote. "One business person said: 'We are hopeful about South Africa now.' They acknowledged that the reform process we have embarked on since last year is yielding results."

The SA Chamber of Commerce and Industry, meanwhile, chamber announced on Thursday that its index tracking business confidence fell to 91.7 in October from 92.4 in September, only the fourth time the index has dipped below the 92 point mark since 2012.

Ferial Haffajee: Is the business investment strike finally over?

Ramaphosa wrote the fact that the majority of the R363bn in investment pledges received at this year's conference stemmed form local businesses showed that was that SA had "stepped up to the challenge". "The total value of investment commitments made this year has vastly exceeded our expectations," he wrote.

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