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By Devina Haripersad

Senior Business/Finance journalist

WEF Davos: SA will have to showcase it’s worth investing in despite energy crisis

It is going to be a mammoth task for the delegation to convince investors that SA is making solid progress to address its shortcomings.

The delegation assigned to fix the marred perception of South Africa at this year’s World Economic Forum held in Davos certainly has its work cut out for them.

The World Economic Forum is an annual international meeting that takes place in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, and will this year be under the theme ‘Cooperation in a Fragmented World’.

The meeting seeks to discuss global economic issues with the overall aim of positioning countries as competitive business destinations. The South African Delegation will be led by President Cyril Ramaphosa and will include ministers Enoch Godongwana, Naledi Pandor, Ebrahim Patel and Mmamoloko Kubayi.

ALSO READ: Godongwana paints gloomy GDP outlook ahead of WEF meeting

They will be left to not just promote the country’s art and entertainment scene, as well as its vast  landscapes and pure nature offerings, but also to address the elephant in the room – the country’s energy crisis.

With 11 power stations not fully operational and rolling blackouts, as the country languishes under stage 6 load shedding, it is going to prove to be difficult.

 This, against the backdrop of a globally difficult economy.  

Aside from the energy woes, they will also be left to convince international investors that aspects such as crime, schools and public sector corruption are on the mend.

According to a study carried out for Brand South Africa, when it comes to the perception of SA from those not familiar with the country, SA scores dismally in the areas of safety, crime and security, education level, and public governance.

Image: Screenshot from Key Messaging report Brand SA.

Fortunately, the delegation has aligned on a key-messaging strategy to address each of these shortcomings.

There were several key messaging pillars to the strategy.

Load shedding

They hoped to to convey that South Africa was taking positive steps to address load shedding by mobilising all resources at its disposal to achieve energy security, the delegate said.

While the country’s use of hydrogen was not mentioned in the strategy outline, their aim was to also showcase the country’s move towards renewable energy, Exxaro’s CEO, Dr Nombasa Tsengwa who will be joining the delegation in Davos, said.

Public finances

The delegation was setting out to show that South Africa was restoring the health of its public finances and making progress in reducing and stabilising its debt. They were geared up to show that recent success in rebuilding fiscal buffers will better position the country to navigate a deteriorating global economic outlook.

Strengthening money-laundering and counter-terrorist financing laws

With the threat of greylisting looming over the country’s head – which would make international trade in South Africa very difficult – the delegation is hoping to reassure investors that South Africa was committed to fully implementing FATF recommendations and strengthening the country’s ability to ensure safeguards in accordance with international standards for AML/CFT and combatting corruption. So far, the president has signed the amendment to two laws that will address a number of these shortcomings.

The meetings will take place between 16 January to 20 January. The event attracts about 2 500 people from more than 100 nations and is covered by media outlets globally.

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