North West to finalise implementation of Platinum Special Economic Zone
Pretoria - The North West provincial government intends to finalise and implement the Platinum Special Economic Zone this year, Premier Supra Mahumapelo said on Friday.
Tabling the State of the Province Address (SOPA), Premier Mahumapelo said the province is making progress in this regard.
“The province intends finalising the design and implementation of the Platinum Special Economic Zone in 2016, based on our engagement with the relevant national department,” said the Premier.
In 2014, Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies announced the establishment of a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in the Rustenburg platinum belt.
Premier Mahumapelo said the province was engaging with almost 80 international manufacturing businesses to establish manufacturing plants in the SEZ.
“There is already tremendous progress in this regard with many manufacturers having shown a keen interest in this project,” he said.
This development, said the Premier, will create thousands of much-needed jobs, especially for the youth.
He said special attention is being paid to youth unemployment which currently stands at 39.7% in the province. The general unemployment rate for the province is 24.4%.
Premier Mahumapelo said the mining industry in the province represents approximately 27% of total industry employment.
“Out of an estimated reserve valuation of economically extractible mineral resources exclusive of the energy commodities - such as coal and uranium, the province has a production share of 22.7% in production revenue,” he said.
The Premier said the agricultural sector currently contributes 2.6% to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the province and the country respectively.
A good maize crop was obtained in 2014, with the total yield of white and yellow maize in the country being 14.25 million tons. This was the biggest maize crop obtained in the last 30 years.
However, current drought conditions are having an impact on the province.
“The contribution of the province to the national maize crop for this year was 20.3%. The maize crop from 2014/2015 was very poor due to the severe drought experienced from January 2015. The total maize crop decreased to 9,941 million tons and the contribution from North West province decreased to 14.76% of the total crop,” he said.
The Premier said preliminary production forecasts for the 2016 production season in the North West is estimated at 870 000 tons, which is 11.7% of South Africa’s total maize production.
“The impact of the very serious drought can be seen from this figure. The severe drought is also having a serious impact on livestock commodities. Poor natural grazing conditions, high costs of purchased feed and fodder and availability of fodder are some of the problems experienced.”
The Department of Rural Environment and Agricultural Development has already started helping farmers through an amount of R23 million.
“The Department of Water and Sanitation has also intervened, with water tankers for both human and animals. Work to drill more boreholes has already started, and more details will be presented,” said Premier Mahumapelo.