More than 250 investors participated in the inaugural Free State Investment Conference. This conference is part of the national drive to improve foreign direct investment in the country.
The two-day investment conference under the theme, ‘’Promoting Investment in the Free State through Partnerships’ was a platform for the Department of Economic, Small Business Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (Destea) to launch the 2019 Investment Prospectus containing investor ready projects in the ITC, Renewable Energy, Agriculture, Mining, Manufacturing, Aviation, Engineering, Agro-Processing and Infrastructure.
MEC Makalo Mohale launched the 2019 Free State Investment Prospectus with high-impact investor-ready projects in the Free State. All these projects in the prospectus require R123 billions of which R16 billion has been invested by the private sector to date, leaving a net shortfall of R108 billion and when completed will create 21 240 jobs.
The conference was put together with the collaboration of economist, academics, and industrial experts. The expected guests at the conference were local, national and international investors. Currently Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the Free State is 3.3% of the general GDP. In order to ensure that the rate of economic growth rise significantly to create jobs, the FDI should be 5.8% of the GDP by 2023.
Addressing the conference, Premier Sisi Ntombela, said: “Ladies and gentlemen, most of my nights are sleepless nights because 48, 5% of the youth are unemployed. We are in trouble.” She further invited investors to explore the different parts of the Free State in order to establish successful business which will increase the rate of economic growth which creates much needed jobs.
Mohale announced the competitive advantages of the province to investors which include but not limited to; well-developed roads and rail infrastructure, availability of tertiary institutions with world class research capacity, quality schools offering quality education, favourable rates of utility services like water and electricity, reasonable and stable labour, availability of serviced land and low crime rate.
He made a call for the business community to make a serious effort towards absorbing young people in their numbers in the fight against poverty. He urged everybody to ensure that value is added to Free State products for the benefit of its people.
Whilst the investors congratulated the Free State for the invitation, they warned about the difficulty of doing business in the Free State due to red tape. Buoyed by the confidence of the Free State, in particular MEC Makalo Mohale’s bold undertaking to roll out the red carpet and not the red tape, one investor has already made a move to establish a Botshabelo Industrial Park. Progress from the undertakings will be evaluated in the next three months.