New economic plan to transform Gauteng

Sebokeng - The Gauteng government has adopted a new economic plan which Premier David Makhura hopes will stimulate the provincial economy and create jobs.

“We have now formulated a new Provincial Economic Plan that focuses on positioning our province strategically in relation to the SADC region, African continent, BRICS countries and major economies in the world, which are compatible with our own economy,” Premier Makhura said on Monday, during his State of the Province Address, in Sebokeng.

The new Provincial Economic Plan, to be launched in May, gives effect to the Nine-Point Plan, announced by President Zuma in his 2015 State of the Nation Address.

Premier Makhura said an Economic Indaba with business, labour and civil society will be held to finalise the public consultations on the Provincial Economic Plan before its public launch in May. In the plan‚ provincial government will identify major sectors of the economy where it will intervene to stimulate growth and create much-needed jobs.

These sectors include the services sector‚ manufacturing, retail‚ agriculture, hospitality‚ financial services and real estate, among others.

The services sector has been identified as a key driver of huge employment, empowerment and expansion into the continent, with most of the jobs in the provincial economy being generated from the services industries.

“We are investing in industrial infrastructure for mineral beneficiation to upscale and increase capacity for the processing of minerals already taking place in our economy,” said Premier Makhura.

There will also be a focus on agriculture, agro-processing and food production. This will see small scale farming and urban food production promoted in areas where there is potential such as Sedibeng and the West Rand.

The provincial government will also pay special attention to non-traditional sectors such as creative and cultural industries, as well as the green economy and smart industries, which also provide enormous opportunities for employment.

With these programmes, Premier Makhura hopes to sustain Gauteng as the country's economic hub despite the prevailing economic conditions.

Gauteng’s economy has been consistently growing above the national average at 4.2% between 2003 and 2013. In 2013, the growth rate was the highest in the country at 2.6%. Gauteng contributes 42% to national employment and has the highest labour absorption rate.

In 1996, there were 2.5 million people employed in the Gauteng economy and 20 years later, there are five million people employed in Gauteng.

However, with the inward migration of about 200 000 people a year‚ the province is under immense pressure to create jobs for its 2.2 million unemployed people in order to fight the social ills associated with unemployment.

“To cope with rapid urbanisation, persistent unemployment, poverty and inequality, we have to work doubly hard and do things differently in Gauteng with regard to the economy, infrastructure development and service delivery.

“Even in the midst of a difficult and volatile global and domestic economic environment, Gauteng’s economy has enormous potential to create more jobs and grow in an inclusive manner,” said Premier Makhura.

To address this, Premier Makhura said the province will have programmes to bring black people into the economic mainstream and create black industrialists.

Premier Makhura said his administration tends to transform the apartheid spatial economy and human settlement patterns to integrate economic opportunities, transport corridors and human settlements; grow the SMME sector as a key driver of growth and revitalise and mainstream the township economy.

This will be in addition to investment in infrastructure as the key stimulator for inclusive growth and economic development.