eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede, left, Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba and KZN MEC for Economic Development Sihle Zikalala on a tour yesterday to witness first-hand the development taking place at the Bridge City precinct in KwaMashu. The aim was to explore developments that are harnessing inclusive growth. Behind them is Dr Pixley ka Isaka Seme Memorial Hospital, which is still under construction. They later visited the Dube TradePort, where many new jobs have been created. Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng
Durban - Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba praised the work and opportunities provided by the Dube TradePort and Bridge City developments in Durban by playing a huge role in creating jobs and attracting foreign investments.

Despite the praise, Gigaba was also quick to point out the country must ensure that previously disadvantaged people must be helped to gain entry into the mainstream economy in order to become entrepreneurs rather than be job- seekers.

“We cannot start by talking about inclusive growth if the vast majority of the people are still outside the mainstream economy. The Bridge City and Dube TradePort are important for driving the economy, but how many people from KwaMashu and Ntuzuma can say they have benefited from these projects which were built in their own backyards?

"We must not think only employment, but our focus should be on developing entrepreneurs in those areas,” said Gigaba.

Economic zone

The minister was speaking at the Inclusive Urban Economic Growth, a public investment perspective in Durban on Tuesday morning ahead of the World Economic Forum Africa (WEFA).

The Dube TradePort, a special economic zone with a strong focus on manufacturing and logistics, is a business entity of the Kwazulu-Natal government. It is geared to promote foreign and local investment. The Dube TradePort has created 4738 jobs since 2011, with 2201 of those being permanent jobs.

“The Bridge City is situated in KwaMashu but you will find that the shops are owned by outsiders. The people must not feel alienated. Instead, we must also do projects that will allow and promote entrepreneurship to prosper in those communities,” he added.

Gigaba has called on municipalities, the government and the private sector to work together to ensure that townships, rural and informal settlements are developed so that they are not left behind economically.

The country’s largest urban areas are the engines of the national economy according to the latest information from the National Treasury.

The eight metropolitan areas account for around 57 percent gross value added (GVA) and are home to 39 percent of the population, providing 50 percent of formal employment. In the past year, they have created 64 000 jobs while the rest of the country lost 175 000 jobs.

GVA is the measure of the value of goods and services produced in an area, industry or sector of an economy.

It is for this reason that Gigaba wants to see the rest of the country developing at the rate of the urban areas, especially the townships and rural areas.

It is hoped that foreign investment can be derived from hosting the WEFA,. The event will see more than 800 influential business leaders in the world coming to Durban to take part, starting on Wednesday.

Read also: SA inks trade deal with China

Gigaba said this was a perfect opportunity for the country to present its case and attract foreign investment.

“When the investors come for the World Economic Forum Africa conference they must see economic zones like the Dube TradePort as important developments that will make it easy for them to do business.

"It is our responsibility as a country to represent the continent well. Africa has the youngest population in the world and vast natural resources. But we also have structural challenges that we must overcome.

"The continent’s natural resources are extracted from the continent, sent to the other parts of the world and create industries outside of Africa. We must work as a collective, all 54 countries on the continent must change that and speak as one voice,” said Gigaba.