Durban– Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba says the World Economic Forum on Africa (WEFA) gathering, which kicked off in Durban on Wednesday, will be an opportunity to not only showcase Durban as one of South Africa’s top tourist destinations, but the event will showcase why South Africa continues to be the gateway to Africa.
Minister Gigaba, who was recently appointed to the crucial finance ministry, is part of the South African government delegation to the WEFA meeting, which is being led by President Jacob Zuma and his deputy Cyril Ramaphosa.
The gathering is also being used by government and business to woo investors and cement existing relationships.
Speaking to reporters at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli Convention Centre, Minister Gigaba reiterated his earlier assertions that despite the recent two downgrades of South Africa’s sovereign credit to sub investment grade, the country’s economy remains vibrant and is the most advanced on the continent.
He said South Africa was alive with possibilities and the country was doing all it can to show that it is open for business.
“We have a massive infrastructure and investment programme which is running over the next three years. We have a growing young population, vast natural resources and therefore we think that we remain open for business and we are open for investment,” said Minister Gigaba.
South African remained focused in managing it’s fiscus in a prudent manner and Treasury would continue to implement structural reforms in the economy, he said.
Government believed the South African economy would continue to grow and this would expand the revenue base in order to increase investment in social and economic expenditure, the Minister said.
He said the main focus for government at the moment was to achieve and implement inclusive growth, something which is also in line with the WEFA theme for this year.
“We understand that only a growing economy can have a capacity to be redistributed, and therefore we are focusing on growing the economy in an inclusive manner.”
Minister Gigaba also touched on his recent roadshow to the United States where he met with business leaders and rating agencies. The roadshow, he said, highlighted that the risk that existed in South Africa can also be found in other parts of the world.
“The Brexit, for example created doubt about the direction that Britain was taking. The British government for instance is working hard to communicate a message that they were not being influenced by narrow nationalistic sentiments,” Minister Gigaba said. He was referring to Britain leaving the European Union. The US elections also created uncertainty about the rise of nationalists that would threaten international trade and were viewed as more protectionist in terms of their policies.
“In South Africa, the risks that you see are an outcome of a democratic process and they do not mean that there will be a change of government and that there will be change in our policies in terms of international trade. Instead, we are more focused on inclusive growth and transformation,” Minister Gigaba said.