KZN premier says radical economic transformation will grow economy
CITIZEN / 28 FEBRUARY 2018 - 02.20 / STAFF REPORTER
Willies Mchunu says through radical economic transformation, economic growth can be achieved in the province.
KwaZulu-Natal Premier Willies Mchunu delivered the state of the province address (Sopa) at the Royal Showgrounds in Pietermaritzburg today.
Image - Citizen
In his address, Mchunu acknowledged it has been difficult to grow an inclusive economy and to create jobs within the context of slow international and national economic growth.
“We are, however, still on track to achieve our 2020 economic targets as measured against a 1% growth trajectory, and our aim is to work ourselves to a 3% growth trajectory as soon as possible. We currently have 2.536 million people in employment and we have created more than 100 000 jobs over the last year.
“More will have to be done to address unemployment and in particular youth unemployment which now stands at 38.6%,” he said.
Mchunu further pointed out the provincial government remains committed to radical economic transformation to ensure inclusive, expanded and sustained economic output creates more jobs.
The premier said the provincial government’s short term focus would be on agriculture, manufacturing and tourism.
“Our agricultural sector has gone through challenging times with unintended consequences of poor land reform implementation and the recent drought. Prospects in this sector are none the less looking much better. The Agriparks Programme, which is rolled out in our Province in collaboration with the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform is aimed at facilitating the participation of black people in production and agro-processing value chains beyond the farm gate,” he said.
In order to strengthen the agricultural sector, he said links between this and the manufacturing sector would be expanded and that an Agricultural Summit would be convened this year to identify challenges, seek solutions on how best to support our emerging farmers to use their land productively, growing a shared economy, creating employment and securing food for the nation.
Mchunu said the government would intervene in order to fast-track the entry of people from previously disadvantaged communities into the mainstream economy.
He said through the radical economic transformation programme the provincial government is confident it will achieve positive outcomes. The programme will focus on the province’s Operation Vula, which includes the Radical Agrarian Socio-Economic Transformation (RASET) and the Black Industrialist Programmes.
Mchunu further pointed out that the manufacturing sector remained the bedrock of the province’s economy, adding the sector had the potential of becoming an African hub for local beneficiation and the export of value-added products.
“We are encouraged by the progress our Special Economic Zones (SEZs) have made at Dube Tradeport and in Richards Bay, and we will expand this model to other industrial hubs throughout the Province. This requires a collective effort to ensure that we have appropriately zoned and serviced land readily available to attract new investors in the manufacturing sector,” he said.
He said the province’s tourism sector has seen phenomenal growth with annual passenger throughput at King Shaka International Airport registering an increase of more than 1 million, with international passenger numbers increasing by 90% since 2010. He said the airport registered an overall passenger growth of 6.4% in 2017, the highest among all South African Airports.
“We are excited about prospects of growing a shared economy in our tourism sector through strong public, private collaboration in building the required tourism infrastructure, to create an environment where local and foreign visitors would love to work, live and play,” Mchunu said.
He added there was a need to attract investment that would gradually develop low-end tourism destinations in rural areas making the sector more inclusive.
“We will further support developments in our Blue- and Green Economies to ensure that we build on the gains we have made,” the premier said.
“The fact that the boatbuilding industry is now partly revived in the Port of Durban and that our Tugs are now built here, is proof that we are making progress. The Provincial Maritime Incubator Programme is now established and provides much needed business training, mentorship, guidance and business support, targeting previously disadvantaged individuals, women and youth,” he added.
Mchunu said the province, throught its SMME and cooperative development and support programmes, provides the platform for entrepreneurship development.
“Partnership agreements have been concluded with tertiary institutions in the Province to provide much needed business development training and incubator support,” he said.
He added that through The Expanded Public Works Programme and other government-led job creation programmes bridging opportunities are created for new entrants to the labour market.
“Over the last year we created more than 41 000 full time equivalent jobs and 166 000 work opportunities through these Programmes and we aim to increase this by at least a further 10% by 2020,” Mchunu said.
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