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Team South Africa stands tall in Davos

Written by *Kingsley Makhubela

International relations

President Jacob Zuma recently led a team of Ministers, Chairmen and CEOs of major companies at the World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting held in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland.

The WEF is an annual meeting that brings together world leaders from business, government, international organisations, academia and civil society in Davos to discuss the global economy.

The theme for WEF 2016 was “Mastering the Fourth Industrial Revolution” and the theme of Team South Africa (TSA) was that South Africa is open for business.

Coming within the context of projected lowered global economic growth, and falling oil and commodity prices, this gathering of international opinion makers and thought leaders presented an opportunity to look at global responses and best practice to a range of pressing social, developmental and economic issues. 

South Africa is not insulated from this global economic environment and although we have the most diversified economy in Africa, with a strong macro-economic policy and fiscal environment, falling commodity prices, amongst others, present a challenge to our economic growth forecasts.

Our most important message in Davos to international business and investors was: South Africa is open for business in this environment and that they can be assured of our commitment to policy certainty and consistency.

What we experienced was that investors and leaders of global business continue to be positive about South Africa in particular and Africa as a whole, contrary to the sentiment we have seen expressed domestically about all affairs economic.

Investors and global business leaders also appreciated South Africa’s frankness and openness in explaining some of the challenges we were are dealing with in terms of our economic growth.

Despite these challenges, South Africa continues to attract foreign direct investment. This week, the ICICI Bank of India announced it would set up an office in South Africa. This affirms our position that we are a preferred investment destination even in these global conditions.

We also took the opportunity to reiterate to delegates at Davos that the National Development Plan and the Nine-point Plan for economic recovery, underscored by Operation Phakisa, remains our programme of action.  This communicated an awareness on our part that we could not continue with business as usual.  The challenging and uncertain global economic conditions necessitate an innovative approach to ensuring that we remain globally competitive in the face of turbulence.  A message can only go that far to build confidence.  We must now pull together in our various sectors to ensure we implement these programmes.

In a highly uncertain economic climate, we have as Team South Africa once again demonstrated that uniquely South African quality of being able to stand together in the face of adversity because apart from our sectoral interests, our country is most important. This is the spirit that will see us transcend almost unprecedented global uncertainty.

* Mr Kingsley Makhubela is the CEO of Brand South Africa.