North West unearths rural economy

Pretoria - The North West province is to develop its villages, townships and small town economies by growing sustainable rural enterprises, says Premier Supra Mahumapelo.

“Our approach is to build an inclusive Villages, Townships and Small Dorpies (VTSD) economy that promotes enterprise and industrial development, reduces unemployment in rural areas and utilise existing capacities within rural households to promote entrepreneurship.

“This we will achieve through the development of VTSD economies by growing sustainable rural enterprises and industries characterised by strong rural-urban linkages, increased investment in agro-processing, trade development and access to local markets and financial services,” said Premier Mahumapelo.

The Premier was delivering the State of the Province Address (SOPA) on Friday.

He said often the markets fail the poor in rural areas.

“The risks and costs of participating in markets may be too high. In other instances, social or economic barriers may mean that the poor are excluded from markets. The status quo cannot forever characterise our VTSD economies.”

Several impediments in the governance system, which inhibit growth and opportunities for small business to prosper, include restrictive by-laws which will be changed, said the Premier.

Other impediments include the slow turnaround time in awarding tenders as well as poor infrastructure, among others. Plans to assist small business and individuals will be announced soon, including plans to pay all service providers within 21 days, the Premier said.

He also announced that business had made several contributions to the development of the province.

“Since 2014, Sun City has implemented a refurbishment masterplan for the future of the resort. In terms of employment creation associated with this construction and development, from 2014 to 2015 a total of 1 650 new direct jobs were created. For 2016, another 1 200 will be created, with a further 2 000 projected,” he said.

Through partnership with Transnet, the provincial government is rolling out community bakeries. Fifteen have already been completed, the majority of which are run by women.

The province will work with municipalities to ensure that all identified areas in villages, townships, and small dorpies (towns) are zoned for business.

“This will cut the red tape and reduce the burdensome and sometimes costly applications for business rezoning,” said Premier Mahumapelo.

Youth unemployment

Youth unemployment in the province stands 39.7%, with only 11% of young people having the necessary skills required to secure employment.

“This reality challenges us to abandon convention and develop and design government programmes and initiatives that speak to the real experiences of our youth,” said the Premier.

The province has accepted a donation from the Services Seta to establish a Provincial Skills Centre to the tune of R9 million. The centre will empower youth will relevant skills to ensure sustainability and increase employability of all beneficiaries of the programme.