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Remarks by President Cyril Ramaphosa at the opening of the Sappi Saiccor Mill expansion project, Sappi Saiccor Mill, Umkomaas

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Programme Director,
Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition, Mr Ebrahim Patel,
Premier of KwaZulu-Natal, Ms Nomusa Dube-Ncube,
Mayor of the eThekwini Metro Municipality, Cllr Mxolisi Kaunda,
Global Board Chairman of Sappi Limited, Sir Nigel Rudd,
Global CEO of Sappi Limited, Mr Steve Binnie,
CEO of Sappi Southern Africa, Mr Alex Thiel,
Representatives of Organised Labour 
Chairperson of the Provincial House of Traditional and Khoisan Leaders, Inkosi Rubert Sifiso Shinga,
Amakhosi and traditional leaders,
Business and community leaders,
Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
 
Good Afternoon,
 
It is a great pleasure to be here at the launch of Sappi’s Project Vulindlela. 
 
It marks the fulfilment of a commitment the company made at the first South Africa Investment Conference in 2018.
 
We convened that first Investment Conference with the aim of raising R1.2 trillion in new investments over five years.
 
Now, four years later, we have achieved more than R1.1 trillion worth of investment commitments.
 
Today, we are seeing just what those commitments mean in reality.
 
Today, we are witnessing far more than a financial investment.
 
We are witnessing an investment in infrastructure, people, innovation, technology and sustainability.
 
It is an investment in community development, in the local economy, in our export capacity and in the industrialisation of our economy.
 
Last week, I attended a launch in Gauteng of an expanded manufacturing facility by Swedish multinational Sandvik. 
 
Earlier today, I was at the opening of an automotive industry components plant run by Hesto Harnesses, a subsidiary of Metair Investments. 
 
There are many other such examples of the impact of our investment drive.
 
They show that our economy is on the road to recovery. 
 
These investments have been made possible thanks to the partnership between government and business to drive growth and industrial development. 
 
The opening of this expansion project is the result of hard work, of persistence, of corporate vision, and, above all, is a testament to the enduring commitment of companies like Sappi to South Africa and its people. 
 
This project supports a number of our national economic priorities. 
 
Firstly, it supports sustainability and moving towards a circular economy. 
 
This facility supports our national carbon reduction goals. 
 
I am told that by using the best available technology, the aim is to halve CO2 fossil fuel emissions, significantly reduce plant CO2 emissions, reduce water consumption and reduce waste to landfill from coal ash by 48 per cent. 
 
It is noteworthy that Sappi continues to use recycled and sustainable wood sources to produce circular and innovative bio-based products. 
 
Secondly, this project contributes to beneficiation. 
 
Through this mill, Sappi is taking a product from South Africa’s soil and producing dissolving pulp.
 
More than that, this mill is producing employment, developing skills and adding economic value to an important raw material.
 
The dissolving pulp contributes to further economic activity through several household, industrial and pharmaceutical applications. 
 
Importantly, it is used by the clothing industry to produce materials such as yarn and textiles, which in turn feeds into our Clothing Textiles Leather and Footwear Masterplans. 
 
Thirdly, this project contributes to rural and enterprise development. 
 
Much of the raw material feedstock that drives this project is sustainably sourced from rural communities. 
 
I am told that since 1995, Sappi has sourced a total of 4 million tons of timber worth R4.2 billion from small growers. 
 
Fourthly, this project contributes to job creation. 
 
The manufacturing sector is one of the key priority industries of the economy and Sappi Limited is supporting both the creation of new jobs and the protection of existing ones by innovating in its business practices. 
 
I am told that the Saiccor plant employs 1,200 staff with 700 contractors. 
 
Indirectly over 51,000 people in KwaZulu-Natal depend on Sappi operations for their livelihood. 
 
As one of the biggest container exporters, Sappi Limited makes an important contribution to the country’s export revenues.
 
The success of many domestic industries in export markets demonstrates our inherent global competitiveness and the huge potential that still exists to grow these industries. 
 
However, to realise that potential, we need to remove the constraints that are hampering the overall competitiveness of our manufacturing industries.
 
We are forging ahead with the measures I announced in July – alongside the fundamental reform of our energy sector – to resolve the long-standing challenge of reliable electricity supply.
 
We have made progress in addressing challenges with our rail and port operations.
 
Several companies have been shortlisted to be considered as partners at the container terminals at the Ports of Durban and Ngqura. 
 
Investments in port and related infrastructure to improve efficiencies will improve the competitiveness of locally manufactured products in global markets.
 
While foreign direct investment is important for our economy, the greatest demonstration of confidence is when our own companies take that lead. 
 
The realisation of Sappi’s investment here at Umkomaas sends the strongest signal that our home-grown multinationals are taking the lead in investing in our economy.
 
It demonstrates confidence to other potential investors that this is indeed a favourable place to invest in and to do business. 
 
It shows that you are ready and willing to play your part in developing our communities by employing more people and by giving greater opportunities to small businesses.
 
This is what partnership looks like. This is what social compacting looks like.
 
Congratulations once again on this milestone. 
 
I look forward to seeing this project expand and thrive, and to witness its benefits for the people of Umkomaas, the economy of KwaZulu-Natal and the progress of our nation. 
 
I thank you.