Cape Town – President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation address (SONA) and the ensuing debate on it in parliament, show the great emphasis the South African government places on attracting investors and avoiding further downgrades by ratings agencies, Walter Lindner, German ambassador in SA, told Fin24 on Friday.
In his view, this focus by the SA government shows the realisation that economic matters touch all lives.
“The emphasis of the SA government on the economic topic is important for us. Of course there is a lot of talk about what is working well in the country and what not. This is fair, because only when governments improve can it lead to greater and greater benefits from implementing that which works,” said Lindner.
While the European Union as a whole is SA’s biggest trading partner, Germany as a single nation is South Africa’s second largest trading partner after China. In 2015 bilateral trade between SA and Germany was €15bn.
Accordingly, German investors account for one of the biggest investment groups in SA. Apart from investments in the motor vehicle industry, they are also active in, among others, the chemistry and renewable energy sectors.
There are about 600 German companies in SA, providing a total of about 100 000 jobs. These companies include global players like Siemens, Mercedes Benz, Volkswagen and BMW. There are also many family-owned small- and medium-size enterprises invested in SA over many decades. Lindner emphasised that these companies would not be in SA if they did not see opportunities here.
“Investors come and do their own checks and won’t come to a country just because a government tells them to,” Lindner said.
He said many of these businesses are planning substantial increases in their investments in the country. Although there will always be some things that could be improved, this shows how important it is to see the positive aspects of SA, Lindner said.
Investors usually want security, easy economic conditions for doing business, infrastructure, a stable working environment, a good legal framework and certainty on what they can expect.
In this environment labour unions also have a necessary role to play, in his view.
“A secret to success in Germany is that reason prevails between labour unions and employers. If employees ask for too much, the company will end up having to close. Therefore, one needs a respectable balance between labour and employers,” explained Lindner.
“Such a balanced view should take into consideration that strikes could lead to a company losing market share to a competitor. One must be aware that you could maybe get more money for a certain time, but then there might not be a company left after a while.”
To Lindner the German model of having workers represent at least a third of decision makers on company boards is a good one, because it brings a sense of ownership in the decision making process.
“Of course there will always be conflicting interests between labour and employers, but the German approach is just a model to show even in the labour sector you need to respect your partners,” he said.
As for the view that SA can be seen as the gateway to the rest of Africa, Lindner said this point is still valid as SA is the only industrialised hub in Africa. At the same time no country can afford to rest on its laurels and allow its competition to gain the upper hand.
“Governments must ensure a country remains in a good position and perform well,” said Lindner.
“South Africa is a unique country with a sad apartheid history. Of course this had to be corrected. Germany is supportive of an inclusive economy and supports black economic empowerment. Yes, there have been injustices of the past, but it is still important for both sides to profit.”
For the future of SA one must invest in training people and he is proud of what some German companies have managed to do in terms of their BEE score cards – especially regarding education and skills programmes.
“In a world where commodity prices are down, I think if it also important for SA to look at attracting investors in areas like manufacturing and tourism. Investors are important for growth and the creation of jobs,” said Lindner.
“Yes, there are challenges in SA, but there are also positive things, otherwise there would not be 600 German companies active in the country. We are here to help overcome them.”
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Nigeria’s Presidential CNG Initiative Allocates N100bn for CNG Buses and EV Adoption
The Presidential Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) Initiative has allocated N100 billion to expedite the deployment of CNG buses nationwide, according to a statement released on Wednesday.
The initiative, designed to catalyze an Auto-gas and Electric Vehicle (EV) revolution in mass transit and transportation, aims to enhance sustainability and cost-effectiveness.
The statement revealed that the fund would be instrumental in supporting the adoption of auto-gas and electric vehicles, signaling a commitment to a more sustainable and economical future in the transportation sector.
The Presidential CNG Initiative plans to leverage over 11,500 CNG and electric-fueled vehicles, along with the deployment of 55,000 conversion kits.
This strategic approach is intended to reduce transportation costs for Nigerians and mitigate the challenges posed by the rising cost of living.
Under the Renewed Hope Agenda, the Presidential CNG Initiative is dedicated to realizing the President’s vision, guided by its steering committee led by FIRS Chairman Zacch Adedeji.
The statement highlighted recent achievements, including strategic technical partnerships and the ongoing commissioning of CNG Conversion centers in key states such as Lagos, Abuja, Kaduna, Ogun, and Rivers.
Several more centers are slated for commissioning in the coming weeks, reflecting the initiative’s momentum and commitment to achieving its objectives.
Nigeria’s Power Transformation: 53 Projects Worth N122bn on Track for May 2024 Completion
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), in collaboration with the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) and power distribution companies, is set to complete 53 power projects by May next year.
Valued at N122 billion, these projects aim to add over 1,000 megawatts to TCN’s wheeling capacity.
During a recent tour of three ongoing projects in Lagos, TCN’s Programme Coordinator, Mathew Ajibade, assured that the projects were not abandoned, refuting speculations.
He confirmed that work is progressing smoothly and is expected to be completed by May 2024, as initially planned.
Assistant Director/Head of Infrastructure Finance Office at the CBN, Tumba Tijani, highlighted the CBN’s support for the power sector, revealing that the bank released a loan at a 9% interest rate in August last year for the projects.
The funding, part of the Nigeria Electricity Market Stabilisation Facility-3, amounts to N122,289,344 and aims to address transmission/distribution bottlenecks, enhance supply to end-users, and unlock unutilized generation capacity.
Tijani disclosed that N85.43 billion has been disbursed into the Advance Payment Guarantee account of the 53 contractors responsible for executing the projects.
The comprehensive project list includes the delivery of power transformers, re-conductoring existing transmission lines, upgrading existing substations, and constructing 33KV line bays.
The initiative reflects a concerted effort to enhance Nigeria’s power infrastructure and meet growing energy demands.
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