Gauteng population outgrowing economy - MEC Ramokgopa

Despite Gauteng's significant contribution to South Africa's gross domestic product, the province;s population continues to outgrow its economy, MEC of Economic Development, Agriculture and Environment, Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, said on Tuesday.

"Gauteng remains the largest contributor to South Africa's economic output, contributing 35% to GDP since 2014.

"However, despite the significant contribution to the country's output, the Gauteng economy is growing far more slowly than the population, creating a disproportionate burden on the economic infrastructure and basic services, and critically on the capacity of the economy to absorb higher numbers of our people into gainful economic opportunity," he said.

The MEC was delivering a speech at the Gauteng Provincial legislature in Johannesburg on Tuesday on the Department's 2019/2020 midterm expenditure framework.

This comes a day after the Statistician General, Risenga Maluleke, revealed that Gauteng, at 15.2 million, is the province with the largest share of the country’s population. 

Recent estimates show that the province saw a negative growth in the first quarter of 2019, which the MEC notes as a "worrying" decline.

"The Gauteng economy registered a negative growth of 2.2% in the first quarter of 2019, off the back of 2.1% and 3% in the preceding two quarters respectively. 

"While this could be expected, given the anticipated seasonal trend of low production levels in the last quarter of each year, it is worrying that each year, the magnitude of the decline increases," he explained.

As a result, Ramokgopa said that a deliberate effort is required to place the economy of Gauteng on a sustainable path of growth.

"The State needs to be aggressive in asserting its re distributive capacity both through legislative instruments and state procurement in a manner that direct investments in the economy in such a manner to undermine the structural fault-lines of an economy that was historically designed to exclude the Black and particularly the African majority," he said.

The MEC presented several ideas to contribute to economic growth in the province, one of which he described as "remaking the township economy". Thousands of commuters spend a larger proportion of their income on transport as they work far from home, he explained.

"We seek to redefine townships and transform them from being places of dormitory-style living and consumption enclaves into sustainable and thriving living spaces, supported by integrated economic nodes and manufacturing or clean industrial hubs," he said.

The department also seeks to explore foreign and domestic direct investment, skills revolution and internet access, tourism and development [among others] to "unlock" economic growth.

* This article previously referred to South Africa's documented population. It was updated at 18:50 on August 1, 2019. 

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