The South African government is working hard to create a dynamic and enabling business environment to promote greater productive investment in the economy, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Thursday.
In a speech prepared for delivery at the business forum of his state visit to Saudi Arabia, Ramaphosa said South Africa was open for investment and he invited Saudi Arabian companies to invest in the country.
"I sincerely believe that the strong ties of goodwill between our countries will indeed translate into economic gains for all our people. As the South African government, we remain committed to creating a business environment that is conducive towards supporting trade and investment," he said.
"South Africa is a thriving democracy with an advanced and diverse economy, a sophisticated and well-regulated financial sector, and extensive transport, telecommunications and energy infrastructure."
Ramaphosa said that the cornerstone of the two country's economic relations is the South Africa-Saudi Arabia Joint Economic Commission, co-chaired by the respective trade and industry ministers.
He said the Saudi Arabia market was key, adding that the South African trade and industry department supported the visits by South African companies to Saudi Arabia with a view of increasing opportunities.
"These efforts have begun to bear fruit with impressive growth in the overall trade relationship. South Africa’s exports to Saudi Arabia showed an increase from R2.6-billion in 2013 to R4.4-billion in 2017. Trade, however, still remains very much commodity based and skewed in favour of Saudi Arabia," he said.
"It is important as we strive for a mutually beneficial trading relationship to intensify cooperation in value-added sectors such as agro-processing, infrastructure, minerals beneficiation, services, technology and skills transfer, health care, automotives and aquaculture. As the drivers of our commercial agenda, the onus is upon business to seek a more balanced trading portfolio."
Ramaphosa also applauded the "significant investments" that Saudi Arabia made into South Africa over the years, including the R5-billion investment by ACWA Power in the Bokpoort concentrated solar power plant in the Northern Cape.
He said the project, launched in 2016, was one of the flagship concentrated solar thermal projects in South Africa; adding that upon completion the solar plant will have the largest level of thermal storage in the world, as South Africa was largely dependent on fossil fuels for energy generation.
"The ACWA Power Plant has seamlessly integrated into our energy diversification efforts, forming part of our Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme. Such has been the success of this initiative that ACWA Power will be undertaking a further investment in South Africa in the Eastern Cape," he said.
"This is a great demonstration of confidence in the South African economy and in the country as an attractive destination for significant investment."
He said in addition to the myriad investment opportunities in South Africa, the African continent was equally endowed with initiatives with the imminent establishment of an African Continental Free Trade Area -- to which 49 African countries have already signed up -- which offers investors a market of over one billion people and a combined GDP of $2-trillion.