President Cyril Ramaphosa says government is taking measures to create fertile ground to attract investment into KwaZulu-Natal and boost the economy of the province.
He was speaking on Friday at a sitting of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) held in Ugu District Municipality in KwaZulu-Natal, as part of the ‘Taking Parliament To The People (TPTTP)’ programme.
The economy of KwaZulu-Natal has faced many challenges over the past three years, including the devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic, the July 2021 unrest – which caused some R25 billion in damages to businesses and infrastructure in KZN and Gauteng – and most recently, the April floods, which also caused billions of rands in damage.
On a provincial scale, the President said government is working on plans to expand and improve the performance of the Port of Durban, which will have a significant impact on efforts undertaken under the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan (ERRP). This national plan is the country’s blueprint for economic recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The Port of Durban is critical for the economy of this district… the province and the country, which is why we are undertaking reforms to improve the efficiency and capacity of our Durban port.
“Durban used to be among the top performing ports in the world. Over time, it has declined and we are now beginning the process of turning it around because we want Durban – which is a great hub for trade, and imports and exports in the Southern Hemisphere – to return to its glory days.
“This is work that involves all spheres of government (national, provincial and local), Transnet and other stakeholders. It is a great example of cooperative economic development.
“We are embarking on all these efforts to improve the economy not only of KwaZulu-Natal but also of this district [Ugu],” he said.
The President said on a more local level, attracting investment into areas such as the Ugu District is critical for economic growth. These efforts are undertaken under the District Development Model (DDM), which is government’s response to the urgent need to improve service delivery in all districts and metro spaces across the country.
Stimulating investment and youth employment
The President said government has already implemented several measures such as tax incentives to attract investments, which will ultimately benefit South Africans.
“We have expanded the tax incentive for employers to take on more young people. We have invested in emerging black industrialists and launched a loan scheme to enable small businesses to bounce back from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“While we encouraging companies to invest and create employment, we are also using public and social employment to create opportunities for a number of our people who are unemployed.
“The Presidential Employment Stimulus, for example, has benefited over a million people in the last two years. Of these opportunities, about 186 000 were in KwaZulu-Natal,” he said.
Over the last four years, the President said more than R1 trillion in new investment commitments has been raised, with R330 billion already having flowed into the economy.
“The factories, data centres, paper mills and mines that are built through this investment are not located at the Union Buildings or Parliament.
“They are located where our people live, and that is why we need to make sure that companies want to invest here in Ugu District and where our people stay. We have a shared responsibility to promote investment in this district and in this province,” he said.
The President warned, however, that local government in the province must ramp up service delivery to make the province and its municipalities a more attractive investment destination. This includes having functional services such as water provision and infrastructure that is conducive to efficient business operations.
“We cannot achieve higher economic growth. We cannot create more jobs and we cannot grow more businesses if local government does not function well.
“When government is efficient, capable, agile and responsive, there is progress and development. People’s quality of life improves. Living standards go up and incomes rise.
“As a result, the nation’s economy grows. Better governance is an issue in which each of us has a stake. Let us continue to work together and to strive together to turn South Africa to be the dream that we have always wanted it to be…[and] turn that dream into reality,” he said.
Source: South African Government News Agency