Despite its many challenges – a stagnant economy, a downgrade by international rating agencies and the impact of Covid-19 – investors on Wednesday said South Africa continued to be an attractive investment destination.
SEW Eurodrive has invested billions in a water-treatment plant in Evaton township. Speaking on the sidelines of the two-day South African Investment Conference (Saic), its managing director, Raymond Obermeyer, along with Georgian ambassador Beka Dvali, gave the country a thumbs-up.
Obermeyer said SEW Eurodrive was a global company, which manufactured and assembled gearboxes, with 88 subsidiaries.
“At the moment, we are expanding our South African operation, spending R200 million in the first phase and another R200 million in the second phase of the Evaton plant.
“I firmly believe our growth here will translate into becoming a springboard into Africa, creating much-needed jobs.”
Obermeyer said SA was “still the No 1 industrial hub and Africa’s powerhouse”.
“I believe being part of Africa, we owe it to ourselves to develop the continent.
“SA has the infrastructure and the capabilities to develop the continent for the benefit of our people – instead of watching the Asians and Indians doing so.
“Job creation is what we all need.”
Like most other industries, SEW Eurodrive has been negatively impacted by Covid-19.
Said Obermeyer: “We had to get over it by saying ‘let’s get going despite Covid-19’.
“Life goes on and the pandemic won’t be around for long. The time [has come] for us to shake ourselves and move forward.”
Reflecting on the importance of Saic, he said: “This conference is a good initiative to make sure that we continue investing in SA.
“There is still a lot of hope for this country to rise up.
“We are ultimately looking at investing close to a billion and creating jobs for thousands.”
Dvali, who is also attending in his capacity as dean of the diplomatic core of the European group, said: “Focusing on investment is crucial in mitigating against the economic effects of the pandemic and its aftermath.
“My country is relatively new to Africa and I am the first Georgian ambassador to SA. But I think SA is a country of unlimited opportunities, endowed with minerals and providing diverse opportunities, from tourism to manufacturing.
“With its human capital, SA is very attractive.
“Events of this nature are helpful in conveying possibilities in SA for our businesses in Georgia.”