President Jacob Zuma says the scale of inequality and exclusion in South Africa is an important challenge which must be confronted this year.

It needs urgent action. After two decades since democracy, the black majority still remains largely outside of the mainstream economy. Social justice cannot be achieved if we allow the status quo to persist. Economic inclusion since 1994 demonstrated that we can grow the size of the economy. We have though failed to ensure that the growth is shared, said the President.

Speaking at a business investor luncheon here Tuesday ahead of his State of the Nation Address to be delivered in Parliament in Cape Town on Thursday, President Zuma said as the country begins a new phase of economic recovery, we have to make sure we take everyone along.

We have to rework and sharpen our transformation model and more importantly demonstrate commitment and empathy. We should never rest until the vision for a better life for all is realised, all of us as labour, business, the community sector and government.

In a bid to remove obstacles to doing business the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Investment was established. It has been discussing the co-ordination and alignment of investment policy and regulation, including the marketing of South Africa as a preferred investment destination.

A dedicated division in the Department of Trade and Industry, InvestSA, has been established which will focus on investment promotion, facilitation and aftercare. The national One Stop Shop service for investors will be launched in March 2017 and three provincial One Stop Shops will be launched by mid-2017.

The One Stop Shops will be the focal point of contact in government for all investors to co-ordinate and facilitate with the relevant government departments involved in regulatory, registration, permits and licensing.

InvestSA will provide specialist advisory, inter-governmental co-ordination, fast-track unblocking and red tape reduction in government.

President Zuma said there were more opportunities to be seized. The European Partnership Agreement (EPA) came into force in October 2016 with increased market access for certain products. We must also be cognizant of the opportunities and challenges that BREXIT will bring,” he said.

Regional integration and trade with other countries in Africa is a key component of our trade policy and offers many opportunities.

We are making credible progress with the continental free trade area, with the first phase of negotiations to include goods and services to be completed in 2017. This will translate into increased commercial opportunities for South African companies.

It is critical that Team SA remains focused and united to unlock these opportunities.”

He was pleased that the guidelines of good practice for South African companies operating on the continent is supported by African Union (AU) member nations. We encourage more South African companies to sign up to the guidelines.

I am confident that working together as we are doing, we can achieve more in developing our economy and making it more attractive for foreign and domestic investment. Let me emphasise that it is critical that we work together as business, labour and government.