The president was speaking at the Volvo Group Southern Africa’s Youth Employment Initiative event held in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal Province, on Saturday.
Ramaphosa said: “We want to encourage corporates not only to expand their operations, but also to persuade their counterparts across the world to invest in the South African economy.
“We want to cultivate a huge cohort of investment envoys that understand the economy; that can see the opportunities, and that can direct potential investors to where they can find assistance.”
Volvo’s initiative is in line with the Youth Employment Service (YES) launched by the government in March. The initiative takes the form of a partnership – led by Ramaphosa – between government, business, labour and civil society.
It aims to have more than one million youths being offered paid work experience over the next three years, as part of placing the needs and opportunities of young people at the center of inclusive economic growth.
Ramaphosa told the delegates, which included high school graduates and Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) students, that the government is this year making a major push to encourage a significant new investment in the economy to create much-needed employment opportunities.
These would ensure that the South African economy grew and became more productive, as companies invest on a far greater scale; workers are better equipped; and economic infrastructure is expanded, as announced during Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation Address in February.
On Saturday, the President announced that government would undertake to build further on the collaboration with business and labour to restore confidence and prevent any further decline in the country’s sovereign rating.
“This would involve making hard decisions to close our fiscal gap, by stabilising our debt and restoring our state-owned enterprises to health,” he declared.
Ramaphosa said he has been hard at work to fulfil this dream through initiatives such as the investment conference to be held in October, as well as the appointment of four special envoys on investment to engage both domestic and foreign investors around the world on economic opportunities in South Africa.
“We have deployed four special envoys on investment to meet with potential investors, to brief them on the advantages of investing in South Africa, and to alert them to the many diverse opportunities that exist across the economy,” Ramaphosa announced.
He added that South Africa was concentrating on the types of investment that would not only create employment, but add value to the natural resources that the country has in abundance.
“We are concentrating on the types of investment that will create shared value, producing sustainable financial gains for investors and broader benefits for their employees, suppliers, communities and other stakeholders”.
Earlier this year, Statistics South Africa reported that the country’s manufacturing production increased by 2.5% in January 2018, up from 1.8% in December.
Despite the increase, these numbers were still below the targets for the sector which was considered a key locus for stimulating economic growth and the creation of employment.
“We are working to address the decline over many years of our manufacturing capacity, which has deeply affected employment and exports.
“We are working to re-industrialise on a scale and at a pace that draws millions of job seekers into the economy,” Ramaphosa said.
But these initiatives require partnership and collaboration and a society that is working towards a common goal for the country, which he said has boundless potential.
“It requires companies firms like Volvo, who are committed to their investment in the country, who are keen to expand their operations, who understand their social responsibilities and are working hard to fulfil them. Through working together, with commitment and diligence, I have no doubt that we will succeed in realising that potential,” Ramaphosa said.