South African Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba on Wednesday said government was planning to upgrade the country’s key ports of entry in a bid to improve regional trade and curb slow economic growth.
Gigaba said that there were many opportunities across the Sub-Saharan African region that South African companies could capitalise on as the region’s growth outlook had been renewed and was now expected to recover to 2.6% this year, and 3.8% in 2018.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) also expects global growth to average 3.6% this year and 3.7% in 2018 as a result of recovery in demand and trade in Europe and Asia.
Gigaba said “Growth outcomes vary across the region, but there are many opportunities. A key opportunity in this regard is to improve regional trade by upgrading key ports of entry, especially Beitbridge (bordering Zimbabwe), which is the gateway to the North-South corridor.
“The Department of Home Affairs is working on revamping this and other ports of entry through public-private partnership, which will improve the movement of travellers and trade facilitation.”
South Africa slashed its projected GDP growth forecast for 2017 by almost half, from 1.3% to 0.7%, as a result of continued decline in business and consumer confidence that has gathered pace since 2014.
Business and consumer confidence are currently at historic lows with direct consequences for investment, job creation and household spending.
Gigaba said growth was expected to recover slowly, reaching 1.9% in 2020.
He said that the development of the Sub-Saharan African region would depend on how South Africa leveraged its global relations and its ability to mobilise both domestic and international resources.