KZN ‘ready to overtake Gauteng’s economy’

2010-12-03 00:00

KWAZULU-NATAL is an awakening economic giant, Finance MEC Ina Cronjé told an African Finance Conference in Durban yesterday.

The aim of the gathering was to look at ways of pursuing financial excellence on the African continent.

Cronjé said the province is slowly but surely beginning to flex its economic muscle. She said the first sign of this came a few years ago when KZN overtook the Western Cape to become the second largest regional economy in South Africa. It is now second to Gauteng.

According to the MEC, the reason for the late start is the fact that post 1994 the province did not have political stability. However, this began to change from the early 2000s when “the peace that is now prevailing created an environment conducive to investment”, Cronjé said.

She thanked President Jacob Zuma and former KZN premier Frank Mdlalose for all the work they did to bring about peace in the province.

The MEC added that KZN has the potential to overtake Gauteng and become the largest regional economy in the country.

She said there are a number of factors favouring the province. These include:

• Many of the world’s current mega cities are at the coast. Durban has this potential.

• The travel distance between KwaZulu-Natal and Johannesburg — currently the gateway to Africa — is shorter than that from other coastal provinces.

• The province shares borders with Mozambique, Swaziland and Lesotho.

• KZN has the best transport system (road, rail, air, pipeline and maritime) in the country.

• Great quality of life: “our subtropical weather makes it warmer along the coast all-year-round, making us a popular destination for hosting international events”.

• The natural beauty of beaches, mountains, game reserves, including two World Heritage sites: the iSimangaliso Wetland Park and Ukhahlamba Drakensberg mountain range.

• A rich, diverse cultural heritage.

•Two major ports: Durban is the busiest port in Africa, and Richards Bay is the deepest port in Africa.

Cronjé went on to say that one of KZN’s greatest assets is its 10 million people. She said the province has large tracts of land ready to be developed, and house prices are relatively low. “Our excellent schools, hospitals and modern infrastructure make KZN attractive to investors,” she added

“By running a clean government we create an environment conducive to business. The time has come for our awakened giant to take centre stage.”

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