Invest, invest, invest. This will be the mantra that will be made loud and clear as South African President Cyril Ramaphosa arrives in the United Kingdom (UK) today ahead of his address at the Financial Times (FT) Africa Summit 2019 on Monday.
The president is expected to lead a powerful business delegation whose key mission will be to drum up more investment support with a view to achieving higher rates of economic growth for an economy that has been shedding instead of creating jobs.
Job creation has always been at the centre of the African National Congress-led government's macro-economic plans since 1994 and this was no different when the Sowetan known as 'CR17' ascended to power in the country's last general election in May.
Ramaphosa on a mission to save the South African economy
The visit by the president comes of the back of the recent appointment of the Presidential Economic Advisory Council, which is comprised of economists and technical experts drawn from academia, the private sector, labour and other constituencies.
Made up of heavyweights such as Dani Rodrik, professor of international political economy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, Renosi Mokate, a former deputy governor of the South African central bank, and Thabi Leoka, an independent economist and non-executive director of SA Express Airways Ltd – the Council held its inaugural meeting on Wednesday and is expected to have advised Ramaphosa on the specifics of his messaging during his interactions with the captains of London's Square Mile, the financial district part of the British capital.
A part of this messaging will most certainly speak to the need to build on the Baa3 rating that the country already has on Moody's Investor Service.
Moody's is the only major rating company still to assess South Africa's debt at investment grade.
S'P Global Ratings and Fitch Ratings cut their assessments to junk in 2017. Already investment bank Renaissance Capital is predicting a downgrade to junk for SA in early November immediately after Finance minister Tito Mboweni delivers the medium-term budget policy statement on October 30.
Asked by thesouthafrican.com if he will be a part of the trip to the UK, Mboweni replied:
"No, I am not. I have to stay at home to finalize the Medium Term Budget Statement. There is still a lot of work to be done."
President Ramaphosa will deliver the keynote address at the Summit, one of the leading summits on the economics of Africa outside the continent.
Speaking exclusively to thesouthafrican.com ahead of the President's visit, South Africa High Commissioner to the UK, Tembi Tambo, said that the presidential visit was not only geared towards soliciting investment but was also one of the highlight of a positive and constructive spirit that has swept through the country in recent times.
"The business community in the United Kingdom are enthusiastically looking forward to hearing President Ramaphosas' address at the FTSummit. He has a very clear and strategic vision of where he expects to see South Africa in the coming years.
"The success of his 2018 Investment Summit in Sandton, South Africa, his consistent messaging on issues dealing with entrepreneurs, the youth and women has created an environment where the 'yes, we can' mentality has taken root. I have no doubt his address will be inspirational, accessible and relevant to the challenges of our times."
Johan Rupert also expected to address Financial Times Summit
The Department of Small Business Development and Brand SA are expected to play their part in adding to the investment mantra by managing activation stands at the Summit. Other South Africans on the speakers list include Johan Rupert, Chairman of Remgro Limited and Mmete Petrus Fusi, Chief Executive of Transnet International Holdings.
Emphasising the relevance of the president's visit to his role as an African leader, Pumela Salela the UK Country Head for Brand SA said that "the FT Africa Summit comes at an opportune time for South Africa. The President of the Republic of South Africa will assume the Chairmanship of the African Union in 2020. His participation in the FT Summit, particularly as a keynote address will serve to illustrate South Africa's readiness to implement the AU's Agenda 2063."
First on his itinerary is the Summit's gala dinner which will be held on Sunday evening.