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Brand SA says speed of implementation is of the essence

Brand SA says speed of implementation is of the essence

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The speed of implementation is of the essence in moving South Africa back to a high growth path, according to Sithembile Ntombela, the acting CEO of Brand South Africa (Brand SA).

The sentiment comes at a time when South Africa is battling with frequent load shedding and logistics challenges that hobble economic growth.

That is why Brand SA announced that it will host the 6th Annual Nation Brand Forum next month with the theme of “an inclusive partnership to rebuild the economy and drive the nation’s competitiveness”.

The theme aims to build South Africa’s brand among the international community and help to position South Africa as an attractive investment destination, which is what the annual investment conference does as well.

The Fourth South African Investment Conference held in March earlier this year took the cumulative pledges to 95% of the R1.2 trillion target over five years.

Trade, Industry and Competition Minister Ebrahim Patel said at the time he was optimistic that the 3.2% gross fixed capital formation growth this year forecast by the Treasury would be exceeded this year, given the substantial commitments in the mining and energy sectors as the pledges were turned into projects.

The Nedbank Project Listing for the first half of 2022 showed a welcome rise in value. Nedbank’s listing shows that the recovery in fixed investment activity continued in the first half of 2022 from the pandemic-induced implosion and the prolonged slump from 2014.

More new projects were announced for the year to date, with the value of the projects totalling R267.6 billion (annualised), up from R214.7 billion in 2021 and the pre-Covid R138bn in 2019. The private sector remained the major driver, with planned new projects of R228.8bn, accounting for 86% of all new projects announced so far in 2022.

Nedbank’s listing shows that there is reason for guarded optimism. After years of delays, South Africa was now beginning to see some evidence of investment in essential economic infrastructure, particularly in energy, road and telecommunications.

The sweeping reforms to energy regulation announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa on July 25 could unlock much faster growth in fixed investment and overall economic activity, directly through new investments in renewable energy over the short term and indirectly by eliminating the energy shortage over the longer term and thereby enabling a broader and more sustainable upswing in fixed investment.

The three-day event will comprise of a youth symposium, round-table side-events with various stakeholders including the media, and private sector open plenaries, focusing on key drivers of trade, investment, and sustainability.

The forum will also host spotlight sessions on best practices on nation branding, youth empowerment and development, as well as how to leverage opportunities presented by the newly established African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

Despite the implementation of the AfCFTA in January 2021, exports to the rest of Africa only rose by 19.3% in 2021 compared with a 30.5% increase for total exports, but in the first seven months of 2022, the rest of Africa was the best performing region with a 34.6% year-on-year (y/y) gain compared with a 11.9% rise for total exports.

In June for the first time in ages, an African country (Mozambique with 5.9% of exports) was in the Top Five of export destinations and that performance continued in July with Mozambique accounting for 4.9% of exports.

The forum takes place during a time when the country’s economy is going through major challenges, and will be staged across four venues in Johannesburg, namely the Nelson Mandela Foundation, Emoyeni, Constitution Hill and the Sandton Convention Centre (SCC).

“Launched in 2016, the Nation Brand Forum (NBF) is Brand South Africa’s flagship annual forum established to mobilise, engage and collaborate with diverse stakeholders to shape a coherent agenda for a compelling nation brand image, reputation and competitiveness. The country’s robust Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan (ERRP) to rebuild the economy, puts it in an enviable position as a proven and attractive destination for sustainable investment and growth opportunities”, Ntombela said.

The 6th Nation Brand Forum will be attended by key stakeholders representing various sectors in corporate South Africa such as financial services, retail, youth entrepreneurs, government entities and media.

Some of the high-profile speakers, delegates and participants include Colin Coleman, a former partner at Goldman Sachs and co-chair of the Youth Employment Service (YES); Bathu Shoes Founder, Theo Baloyi; H&M Country Manager, Caroline Nelson; and Tshepo Mohlala, founder of the denim brand Tshepo the Jean Maker.

The forum will give stakeholders and delegates the opportunity to engage on the progress made so far in the implementation of the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan (ERRP) and Operation Vulindlela – a programme led by the Presidency and National Treasury to fast-track implementation of structural reforms in key sectors such as energy, logistics, and telecoms.

Operation Vulindlela was established in October 2020 with five key objectives:

a. Stabilise the supply of electricity;

b. Reduce the cost and improve the quality of digital communications;

c. Make sure there is a sustainable water supply to meet demand;

d. Promote a competitive and efficient freight transport system;

e. Create a visa regime that attracts skills and grows tourism.

This year’s forum builds on the successes of the previous five years of engagements. Over the years, the forum has featured leading local and global private and public sector representatives.

“Overall, stakeholders will walk away from the 6th Nation Brand Forum with an understanding of what contribution they can make to rebuilding and growing the South African economy to alleviate youth unemployment, stimulate entrepreneurship, and increase investment,” Ntombela concluded.

Helmo Preuss is an economist at Forecaster Ecosa.

BUSINESS REPORT

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