A total of fifty companies and financial institutions pledged $7 billion at the South African annual investment conference providing a huge boost to the government struggling to contain record economic recession.

At the first conference in 2018, President Cyril Ramaphosa set a goal of attracting $78 billion of investment over the following five years to create much needed jobs and lift the economic growth rate.

The two previous conferences saw combined investment pledges of more than $42.9 billion but some of those pledges have been scaled back or put on hold because of the pandemic.

Among the biggest pledges on Wednesday, the New Development Bank of the BRICS group of nations promised $2.1 billion of financing for projects in South Africa, Sasol said it would invest a minimum of $351 million and PepsiCo said it would invest $357.5 million.

Last month, President Cyril Ramaphosa unveiled a plan to return South Africa’s economy back on track by focusing on massive public works and job-creation.

Following a record gross domestic product (GDP) contraction in the second quarter, Ramaphosa said that his plan will unlock more than $60 billion in investment in the next four years and create more than 800,000 jobs.

In a speech to Parliament, he said, “Despite these vital interventions, however, the damage caused by the pandemic to an already weak economy, to employment, to livelihoods, to public finances and to state owned companies has been colossal.”

Africa’s most industrialized country suffered a GDP drop of more than 17% in the second quarter, and over 2 million jobs were lost.

Ramaphosa’s plan focuses on expanding power generation capacity and building new infrastructure that would spur key sectors of the economy.

Over $8 billion has been set aside for job-creation initiatives in the next three years, and the COVID-19 relief grant has been extended for three more months.

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