Premier unveils ambitious plan to grow the province’s economy

2014-06-27 00:00

PREMIER Senzo Mchunu yesterday unveiled an ambitious plan to grow the province’s economy, fight poverty and eradicate unemployment between now and 2030.

Delivering his State of the Province address in Pietermaritzburg, Mchunu said his government recognised progress made in economic growth and on transforming the economy.

“As the provincial government, we are already working on a shift with regards to government focus on growing the economy,” he said.

Mchunu also said the critical area for the KwaZulu-Natal administration was identifying economic sectors that were better geared to respond to growing the economy.

According to Mchunu, the provincial economy was better positioned to capitalise on agriculture, mineral beneficiation, manufacturing, tourism, freight and logistics and the financial services.

He promised increasing employment from 2,4 million recorded in 2010 to 3,3 million in 2020 and 4,5 million in 2030. This, he said, would be done by increasing the number of jobs by establishing SMMEs and co-operatives.

“The newly established KwaZulu-Natal Small Business Development Agency and the Ministry and Department of Small Business Development will serve as our vehicles as we refocus on small businesses,” he said.

Mchunu also said the agricultural sector was expected to increase employment from 110 000 jobs to 200 000 jobs in the next five years.

This would be realised, he said, by facilitating 1 000 new farmer entrants and providing one million hectares of unproductive land back into commercial agricultural production.

“We have already signed two memoranda of understanding with private sector agricultural investors on the rollout of a programme to establish joint venture commercial agricultural operational entities with emerging farmers.

“We are piloting this concept in the Sahlumbe or Tugela Estates area of the Indaka Municipality.”

He added that sugarcane and the sugar industries would receive full attention.

“We see in both industries, the potential for growth and employment of thousands of our people, especially those in rural areas.”

“The people of KwaZulu-Natal from eSezela in the South Coast to ­KwaMnqobokazi in the North Coast have a very strong belief in this crop and we will work with them to unlock its potential of this crop.”

Mchunu added that with the Agriculture and Rural Development Department would be strengthened to be formidable player in economic development and food security in our province.

He also said there was potential in the manufacturing of renewable energy products, rolling stock for rail and marine manufacturing.

“The MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs and Tourism Mr Mike Mabuyakhulu will elaborate on how to unlock the new opportunities I have highlighted.”

The premier said there would be more investment in infrastructure development with plans afoot to have Dube TradePort and the Richards Bay Industrial Development Zone declared as special economic zones.

He also announced an increase in the generation of new renewable energy.

“KZN has insufficient electricity infrastructure to meet the rising demands of both industry and household consumers due to the limited capacity of transmission lines and aging networks. This is further compounded by the backlogs in the supply of electricity from the existing power stations, as well as a lack of effective demand management programmes. The recent spate of cable thefts have added to the challenges we are facing.”

He said the provincial government was engaging authorities on a possibility of establishing an Energy Trading and Facilitation Agency for the province.

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