Government indicated in February that there was pain ahead in addressing Eskom’s challenges and making it sustainable, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Wednesday.
He was responding to Tuesday’s debate by Members of Parliament on his recent State of the Nation Address (SONA).
The secure supply of electricity is fundamental to the recovery of the SA economy, Ramaphosa emphasised.
“We want to put Eskom on a sustainable operational path and we have seen great improvements.
“We are closely engaged with the situation at Eskom, with the implementation of the nine-point plan, strengthening the board and setting out a road map for the future,” said Ramaphosa.
He said government was also supporting SOEs like South African Airways (SAA) and Denel, as they “seek to manage their dire financial positions”.
During the MPs’ debates, Ramaphosa was accused of only focusing on foreign direct investment (FDI). To this he responded that efforts to attract FDI is certainly not government’s only focus.
“We are trying very hard to get (more) local investors to invest in SA,” said Ramaphosa.
He would like to see SA become an entrepreneurial state. Here, too, he would like to see local investors getting involved. To encourage such local investment, he wants to create more policy certainty and consistency.
He said “detailed work” was being directed to reduce the cost and increase the ease of doing business, especially in certain focus areas which include tourism, agriculture and mining.
South Africa needs a reinvigorated industrial strategy, which involves government, state-owned enterprises, business and labour, according to Ramaphosa.
Such a strategy would focus on economic sectors like auto manufacturing. His vision is for SA to sell auto parts to the rest of Africa.
“Two weeks from now I am going to attend a meeting in Niger where the boldest plan ever to promote economic integration of Africa will be discussed,” said Ramaphosa.
“Remember, the rest of Africa is our biggest trading partner and underpins our industrial strategy.”
He would like South African businesses to accompany government delegations into the rest of Africa in order to see how more markets can be opened up to them.
“South African made goods must be on the shelves of every country in Africa and not imported from across the oceans to them,” he said.
Ramaphosa is happy to see that small businesses are benefiting more from government procurement.
“We want to support village and township enterprises to ensure their sustainability. Those with a monopoly hold on certain markets would now have to make space for smaller businesses to come and compete on an even keel,” he said.
He would also like to see the private sector get involved in financing small companies that want to scale up.