Deputy President Paul Mashatile has attributed the growth in gross domestic product (GDP) to the economic recovery measures that were implemented by government to support the economy.
Stats SA reported that the country's GDP grew by 0.6% in the second quarter of 2023 while it grew by of 0.4% in the first quarter.
These measures include financial support for distressed businesses, infrastructure investment, and job creation initiatives such as the Presidential Youth Employment Initiative (PYEI), implemented as the Basic Education Employment Initiative (BEEI) across all nine provinces.
“Between April and June this year, at least 135 000 earning opportunities were secured by young people through the Presidential Youth Employment Initiative’s National Pathway Management Network.
“Some 108 061 of these were accessed through the SA Youth platform, with 27 088 opportunities scored through the Department of Employment and Labour’s Employment Services of South Africa (ESSA) website. We are adamant that if PYEI can receive more funding, it will reach more young people,” Mashatile said on Saturday in Johannesburg.
Addressing the Forty Under 40 South Africa Awards Ceremony, he called on young people to take up the opportunities available in digital sectors and others to combat the high youth unemployment rate.
“Our government believes that entrepreneurship is part of the remedy for the massive youth unemployment. In partnership with the private sector, we have launched several youth business funding opportunities to help youth start and maintain their businesses. This includes the Youth Challenge Fund (YCF), the Youth Pipeline Development Programme, and the Youth Technology Innovation Fund (YTIF).
“While these measures have helped stabilise the economy, we must remain vigilant and adaptable to emerging challenges. Moreover, we have also gained some pace by implementing the structural reforms for the reconstruction and recovery plan, Operation Vulindlela,” Mashatile said.
Since Operation Vulindlela was launched in October 2020 as part of the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan, government has implemented 35 priority structural reforms identified for their impact on economic growth and job creation.
“We have made progress in energy, our logistics network, digital communications, and the reform of the visa regime to enable businesses to attract the skills they need to grow. Eleven reforms have been completed, while 14 are on track or progressing well.
“Regarding the energy challenge that has remained a top priority in our country, we have amended Schedule 2 of the Electricity Regulation Act to remove the licencing requirement for generation projects of any size,” the Deputy President said.
More than 100 projects are at various stages of development, representing over 10 000 megawatts of new generation capacity and over R200 billion in private sector investment.
“Additionally, three projects from the risk mitigation programme have been constructed, with five projects expected to reach financial closure this quarter.
“We approved the Electricity Regulation Amendment Bill in March, which has been tabled in Parliament. This Bill will establish a competitive electricity market, enabling multiple generators to compete on a level playing field. These are essential to ramping up energy generation in the short and medium term,” the Deputy President said.
He said government’s efforts in investing in young people means redirecting efforts and resources in a number of critical areas, including the skills revolution and education, providing quality health care, investments in new technologies as part of 4IR and artificial intelligence as well as investments in infrastructure for ease of business and movement of goods allows entrepreneurs to flourish.
“Investing in youth participation is not just a trendy concept but a necessity for our collective future. It goes beyond just financial resources. It requires a mind-set shift and a collective commitment to nurturing talent and empowering individuals,” Mashatile said.
Taking advantage of opportunities on the continent
The Deputy President urged entrepreneurs to take advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
“In this regard, South Africa is a significant member of this trade revolution that will shape the continent's future by stimulating innovation and value-chain growth and boosting industrialisation and job creation across industries. The AfCFTA has 54 signatories, making it the largest free trade area in terms of the number of member states, second only to the World Trade Organisation.
“As part of Agenda 2063, we must dismantle the barriers that hinder youth participation in the economy. We need to break free from the cycle of generational exclusion and embrace an intergenerational approach where the knowledge and experience of our elders are combined with the fresh ideas and perspectives of today's youth,” he said.
Mashatile said unlocking the demographic dividend will spark a wave of growth and progress that will benefit the youth and the entire continent.
“We need greater collaboration among governments, civil society, the private sector, and international partners to achieve this,” he said.
Source: South African Government News Agency