French companies have announced R50-billion of new investments in South Africa in different sectors, including energy, health, tourism, mobility, retail, manufacturing and agro-industry, the French Embassy in South Africa said.
The announcement was made at the 2022 South Africa Investment Conference on March 24 and follows the announcement of R20-billion in investment commitments in 2019, a pledge which has already been fulfilled.
“This year’s conference comes at a time when South Africa continues to build a firm foundation for a sustained economic recovery that will encourage further investment and stimulate new opportunities and jobs for its citizens, especially following Covid-19. This new pledge demonstrates the resilience of French companies in South Africa.
“However, to sustain this investment effort, it is crucial that business-friendly policies are reinforced, such as structural reforms, including port efficiencies, energy stability, anti-corruption policies and security, as well as streamlined visa processes for investors to avoid any delays in implementation. These steps would further reinforce the position of South Africa as the investment hub on the African continent,” the embassy said.
During the Presidential visit to South Africa last year, French President Emmanuel Macron and President Cyril Ramaphosa reaffirmed the importance and strength of the bilateral trade and investments between the two countries. They agreed to work together to pursue balanced and increased trade and to promote investment that supports industrial development. Today, the European Union remains South Africa's biggest trade and investment partner.
“France shares the transformation agenda of President Ramaphosa and is committed to being part of the investment drive that is now gathering pace following the pandemic. We are proud to be such an important partner and friend to South Africa,” said French ambassador to South Africa Aurélien Lechevallier.
The 22 companies behind the substantial investments are Advini, Air Liquide, Alstom, BNP Paribas, Bolloré Logistics, Bureau Veritas, Danone, EDF, Engie, Kasada, Leroy Merlin, Limagrain, L’Oréal, Mobilitas, Pernod Ricard, Sanofi, Saint-Gobain, Schneider Electric, Séché, Total Energies, Trace and Veolia.
About 400 French companies, from highly internationalised groups to small and medium-sized enterprises, have a presence in South Africa and they directly employ around 65 000 people in the country. The companies invest with a long-term outlook, alongside South-African partners and actively contribute to the socioeconomic transformation of the country.
“This new investment further proves the strong resilience and confidence of French companies into South Africa, despite many challenges still to be tackled such as structural reforms to be accelerated including energy stability, port competitiveness and investor visa ease to allow SA to remain the preferred Hub for Africa,” emphasised Foreign Trade Advisers of France in South Africa president Jean-Claude Lasserre.
“Our passion and purpose is to create opportunities for the French-South African business community, and this investment will give a significant boost in this regard. Investing and partnering with South African business allows us to leverage our respective strengths, so we can build our brighter future as a team,” said French South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry chairperson Dr Yves Guenon.