The Inaugural South Africa Investment Forum

Food for thought from delegates of the inaugural SAIF-2030 Conference

The inaugural  South Africa Investment Forum – Vision 2030  took place in Johannesburg on 19 June 2014  just weeks after the South African elections and immediately following the appointment of a new cabinet. The SAIF-2030 Flickr page includes photos of the Forum speakers, networking activities during the event, plus two excursions to the township of Soweto and the Blue Mosque by Johannesburg.

This was the first in a series of roving policy forums to be staged across Africa which will highlight the importance of committed partnerships for ethical investment in sustainable projects. The event served as a platform for fostering contacts and partnerships within a unique gathering of leading figures from the business, banking, trade, industry, government, policy and media circles operating in both developed and emerging markets

Conference speakers and delegates highlighted the need to take inspiration from Nelson Mandela’s call for environmentally aware investment in sustainable projects to implement South Africa’s 2030 development plans. The debate centered around the urgent need to further develop the infrastructure of the country through new global partnerships committed to ethical values and policies that empower communities by treating them as economic stakeholders.

The potential for investment of the BRICS nations Brazil, Russia, India, China and its most recent member South Africa was assessed by representatives from the BRICS Business Council, the South African Ministry of International Relations, and CEO of the Human Sciences Research Council Prof. Olive Shisana, who is also the South African Chairman of the BRICS think-tank.

Alexander Tikhomirov of Vnesheconombank offered insight into the Russian Development Bank’s commitment to investing in Africa to help diversify Russia’s economy and boost its competitiveness. Representatives from pump manufacturer Kirloskar Brothers, one of India’s largest corporations provided details of its substantial activities in South Africa. The focus was on the fact that today, Renewable is Affordable.

Tamer Taskin, Coordinating Chairman of the Turkish private sector institute, Foreign Economic Relations Board of Turkey (DEİK), looked at the dynamics of growing Turkish interest and investment across Africa. Defy Appliances General Manager, Hakan Kozan, highlighted the significance of manufacturing in Africa.

Portuguese multi-national Mota-Engil, one of Africa’s largest investors, presented the ethical dimensions to a diverse array of sustainable infrastructure development projects the company has made through Federal Direct Investment. Mota-Engil was awarded the SAIF 2030 Award for Exceptional Contribution to Environmental Sustainability and Community Development.

The event was chaired by Peter Metcalfe and Gustavo Galleguillos from the Foundation for the Development of Africa, a non-profit company “initiating and facilitating business and other processes conducive to sustainable development”. Madeleine Mkunu, President of Leading Women of Africa, a pan-African forum for women’s empowerment spoke about the crucial role of women in the reconstruction of 21st century Africa and introduced a concluding workshop in which LWA and other African entrepreneurs presented their infrastructure projects to investors.

Conclusions and Actions

The messages that came out of the conference were loud and clear: The South African economy faces many challenges impacted by the tapering of quantitative easing on emerging markets. Financing development is vital, as the expiry of The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2015 underlines the need for a review and revision of the architecture for post-MDGs.

As the major gateway into Africa and one of the continent’s top 10 fastest growing economies, South Africa is uniquely placed to take the lead in tackling these challenges head-on. The newly established ANC government is mindful of the imperative to promote and develop an economy which can compete globally while addressing the disparate demands of the South African population in meeting their economic, infrastructure and education needs.