Address by Nelson Mandela at launch of Douw Steyn Call Centre

3 February 2004

It is always a great pleasure to see new investments coming to our country, and today marks another very gratifying celebration of such investment.

When South Africans came to the table to negotiate a peaceful settlement and an end to apartheid, we genuinely believed that the world would celebrate with us also by means of big investments in our economy. We thought that the consolidation of our young democracy would be supported by massive investments, allowing our economy to grow and prosper.

We had reason to believe that there would be a so-called peace dividend accruing to the country after all these decades of apartheid rule, discrimination and exploitation. This, we thought, would be not through donor aid but mostly through investment and trade.

We all know that the foreign investment was, eventually, not of the volume and nature that we anticipated.

However, in spite of the understandable disappointment that the optimistic expectations were not met, we are highly appreciative of the foreign investment that did take place. There are those notable examples of entrepreneurs and corporations that demonstrated their faith in the future of this country by investing their money here.

That faith is being vindicated by the general performance of the South African economy. It is universally recognised that the fundamentals of our economy are extremely sound, and the management of the economy is hailed across the world.

We are confident that the healthy performance of our economy will lead to increasing direct foreign investment in the months and years ahead.

We are here today to mark another major investment in our country, and specifically in the Western Cape.

As we now know, the Budget Group of Companies from the UK has signed a lease for a substantial contact centre facility in Cape Town, which will bring an investment of R100 million over three years to the province.

I am particularly pleased about this investment because a major personality involved in this is a very valued friend, Douw Steyn. This business was started by Douw who is now the Group Chairman. Douw Steyn is an excellent example of a South African business person who spread his wings internationally and yet remained firmly committed to South Africa.

His generosity to us, our organisation, and to the development of South Africa is well-known and I am sure he would be embarrassed if I go into details. I can only thank him, and especially today commend him and his company for this investment in our economy.

We wish Wesgro well in their efforts to strengthen and grow the economy of the Province. And we congratulate Budget and Wesgro on the partnership they have formed.

I thank you.

Source: Nelson Mandela Foundation