Billions for farmers, cars and clothing - but the mood at this year's investment conference is more subdued - South Africa

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The private sector and public entities  pledged new investments during the government's latest investment conference, which is aimed at bolstering the struggling economy.

The second annual conference is part of President Cyril Ramaphosa's  plan of raising R1.2 trillion  in new investments over five years.  In 2018, companies made pledges amounting to R300bn, in what Ramaphosa  described as a great milestone.  But on Wednesday, the mood inside the Sandton Convention Centre auditorium was less exuberant compared to last year, with  fewer companies raising their hands to heed the president's call.

Below are some of the notable investment announcements: 

MTN: R50bn 

Africa’s largest mobile phone committed R50bn to invest, primarily, in the roll-out of digital infrastructure development.

Toyota SA: R2.4bn

The company will invest in the production of a passenger car model which will come out by the end of 2021. Its plant located south of Durban currently assemblies the latest Corolla model and Hilux bakkies.

Vehicle manufacturing: R6bn

The National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (Naamsa) unveiled a R6bn Automotive Industry Transformation Fund, aimed at supporting black participation in the automotive industry supply chain through upskilling of entrepreneurs in the sector, including a drive to increase the number of black-owned dealerships and authorised repair workshops.

The fund is supported by the seven Original Equipment Manufacturers - BMW, Ford, Isuzu, Nissan, Toyota, Mercedes-Benz, and Volkswagen - who will directly use the services of black-owned businesses to drive transformation.

“The Automotive Transformation Fund is pioneering, and I think is a perfect blueprint for other industries to consider. This is an industry-wide initiative, bringing together suppliers and OEMs to collaborate for common good," said BMW SA chief executive and Naamsa Vice President, Tim Abbott.

The Agricultural Development Agency

Politician-turned-businessperson Roelf Meyer announced the formation of a R12.9bn venture to support emerging farmers, which is an initiative backed by the department of agriculture, land reform and rural development.

The agency to be launched in January 2020 is expected to benefit rural communities across the country and unlock jobs estimated at 300 000.

Retail, Clothing, Textile,  Footwear and Leather 'Masterplan'.

Representatives from the retail sector, clothing manufacturers, labour and government signed a "Masterplan" aimed at creating jobs sustainability in the depressed manufacturing sector.

The plan will result in improved sourcing from local companies in a bid to preserve jobs.The plan sets the objective of creating more than 70 000 new manufacturing jobs in over the next few years, according to the Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers' Union (SACTWU) .

Under the pact, major retailers are expected to increase procurement from local producers by up to up 65%.

Government has also committed to strengthen the inspections and compliance enforcement capacity of the South African Revenue Services (SARS) to clamp down on illegal imports of goods.