Eskom to spend R100 billion in Mpumalanga

By Sydney Masinga

Nelspruit - Electricity supplier Eskom will spend over R100 billion over the next 10 years in Mpumalanga on expansion projects that will also help create thousands of jobs.

In his State of the Province Address in Nelspruit, on Friday, Premier David "DD" Mabuza said Eskom planned to complete 41 new supply and expansion projects in the Highveld area, including the Kusile power station, which is being built near Emalahleni (formerly Witbank).

The completion of the power station will also lead to the creation of new jobs in the mining sector.

"The projects will see the employment of more than 9 000 additional full-time skilled staff for the running of new mine operations.

"As government, we would like to thank Eskom for helping us create jobs, especially in this difficult time of global financial recession," said Mr Mabuza.

He commended Eskom's commitment to contribute towards maintaining the road network which will be under even more pressure with increased coal mining activities in the area.

"As government we appreciate Eskom's commitment to work with us to mobilise resources for the construction, rehabilitation and maintenance of the coal haulage network," he said.

Mr Mabuza said the provincial government also intends to merge and strengthen its parastatals to contribute towards business development and job creation.

"We will merge the Mpumalanga Agricultural Development Corporation (MADC) and the Mpumalanga Housing Finance Company (MHFC) with the Mpumalanga Economic Growth Agency (MEGA) to accelerate enterprise development and infrastructure delivery, as well as jobs for our people," he said.

He said the five Mpumalanga flagship projects will also be reviewed to ensure that their implementation impacts on job creation and economic development.

These include the Maputo Development Corridor, Water for All, Accelerated Capacity Building, Heritage, Greening Mpumalanga and Tourism, and the Moloto Development Corridor.

"We also need to develop Small Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) to make sure they contribute to job creation in the province.

"We will do this by including more of them in broad-based black economic empowerment objectives, with the aim of supporting their growth and sustainability, leading to job creation," added Mr Mabuza.

The premier said by 2014 Mpumalanga will have created a total of 237 170 work opportunities through the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP), 75 617 of those being full-time employment.

"During this financial year alone, we will create 28 378 work opportunities. Of these 8 625 will be full-time equivalent jobs," he said.

Mr Mabuza also committed his government to settling all outstanding payments to small businesses September this year.

"To ensure that we contribute to the sustainability of such small businesses, the government recommits itself to the principle of paying for services procured, especially from SMMEs, within 30 days," said Mr Mabuza.