One Billion Rand Township Economy Drive

Johannesburg - The Gauteng government will invest more than R1 billion to build and improve infrastructure for township economies in the next five years, says Premier David Makhura.

"We want to make the township economy a critical player in Gauteng's economy. We want 30 percent of the Gauteng economy to be composed of township enterprises," Premier Makhura said on Tuesday.

He said government wanted to double the size of the Gauteng economy and grow it to a two trillion rand economy over the next 15 years.

"The revitalisation of the township economies is one of the interventions to transform, modernise and reindustrialise our economy," Premier Makhura said.

Speaking at a one-day Summit on Township Economic Revitalisation, at Orlando Stadium in Soweto, he said government was responding to the needs of the township entrepreneurs.

The purpose of the Summit was to afford local entrepreneurs, SMME's and cooperatives an opportunity to contribute towards the Township Economic Revitalisation Strategy.

Premier Makhura said the Gauteng provincial government was looking at seven interventions which would help grow the township economies

"We want to ensure that there is an appropriate legal and regulatory framework... we need to review some of the laws that don't promote the growth of SMME's and township entrepreneurs.

"We want to promote productive activities in the townships, we must produce goods and services in the townships," he said.

Other interventions that would help grow township economies included fast tracking skills development, assisting entrepreneurs with financing and investing in township economies.

Premier Makhura said government wanted to assist township entrepreneurs with access to the markets and procurement.

He said over the last three months he had consultations and participative engagements with townships entrepreneurs across the province.

"We visited more than 65 townships in Gauteng and gained insider perspective and first-hand information from more than 50 000 township entrepreneurs about their plans and aspirations," Premier Makhura said.

Some of the challenges that were facing township entrepreneurs included the presence of shopping malls, a procurement system that does not support township economies and heavy handedness by metro police who were criminalising informal traders

He said spaza shop owners were concerned about the cut throat competition particularly by foreign nationals who now dominate the spaza shop sector in the townships.

"The government has pledged an amount of R60 million in the current financial year to invest in building proper infrastructure for township entrepreneurs to be able to do their business in better conditions," Premier Makhura said.

He said in the month of October government would invest several billions of rands into the revitalisation of the public transport infrastructure.

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa told township entrepreneurs that innovation drove businesses.

"Innovation is what drives economies, I want you to sit back and think what you can do that is innovative. Winners in any business are those who are innovative, who think out of the box," he said.

Deputy President Ramaphosa encouraged entrepreneurs to improve their skills so they could get better at reading a balance sheet, understand income statements and sharpen marketing skills so they could access markets.

"The township economies must be used a launching pad to launch into the broader economy of our country. You must manufacture goods in the township and sell them in must venture out of the province, venture out of the country.

"We should not aim just to remain here; the township economy is our launch pad. We must launch ourselves like a rocket," he said.

Deputy President Ramaphosa called on big business to support township economies.