DURBAN - KWAZULU-NATAL will be working hard to double its contribution of its current gross domestic product (GDP) to boost South Africa's economy, despite subdued business confidence.
KZN Premier Sihle Zikalala said that from their engagements with business in the province, they intended to grow the province's economic impact to boost the GDP of South Africa.
The latest available data from Statistics SA showed that KZN was the second-biggest contributor to the economy behind Gauteng, accounting for 16 percent of GDP in 2017.
This means that the province was responsible for R16 of every R100 generated by the national economy.
“We have earmarked that by 2021 we should be growing by 2.5 to 3 percent so that by 2030 we effectively reach that target of 5 percent,” said Zikalala.
According to the National Development Plan(NDP), South Africa should be growing its GDP by 5 percent by 2030.
KZN had a role to play in achieving that and ensuring that they turned the situation around in less than three years, he said.
Earlier this month, Statistics South Africa (StatsSA) data showed that first-quarter gross domestic product (GDP had contracted the most since 2009, putting the SA Reserve Bank under further pressure to loosen its monetary policy, at its meeting next month, to stimulate growth.
StatsSA said its data showed that the economy had shrunk 3.2 percent quarter on quarter, after a five-month strike in the gold mining sector. Reduced mining production and power outages hurt output in the manufacturing sector.
The sixth administration of KZN, led by Premier Sihle Zikalala, held engagements with the province's captains of the industry in Durban this week.
The premier said that to achieve their economic ambition, they had short-term interventions that included ensuring stability by addressing disruptions in business operations, confronting and dealing decisively with truck burnings and property damages by various groupings.
The SA Transport and Allied Workers Union recently called on the government to address the ongoing chaos in the trucking industry and put an end to the unnecessary loss of life.
Dozens of trucks have been attacked and torched, mostly on the N3 in KZN, in the last year. Some industry players estimate the number of people killed in these attacks to be as high as 213.
To stem this, Zikalala said they would be decisive on these by working with the police.
Furthermore, the province of KwaZulu-Natal would ensure that genuine concerns about employment and economic participation were assisted to help those concerned to break into the economic space.
The provincial executive said the province would not allow criminality and the state of lawlessness to prevail even in communities.
Zikalala said another urgent task the province had to tackle was to revamp the two strategic cities of Pietermaritzburg and eThekwini to ensure they reclaimed the position they previously occupied.
“We will deal with cleanliness, crime and challenges of drugs, ensuring that all areas are conducive for investors and, secondly, for tourists and ensuring that the people of the city are protected.”
The province and local business say that in their strategic long term, they will work on the growth of key sectors that include manufacturing, agriculture and agro-processing, as well as tourism and the oceans economy.
KwaZulu-Natal Growth Coalition co-chairperson Moses Tembe said one of the major thrusts of their discussion with the provincial government was about ensuring that business and private sector began to look at the fundamentals, starting with skills development and alignment with the changing business needs.
The development of colleges and their curriculum would actually be informed by and large bythe industry, he said.
“It is key to look at the economic growth of KZN and development of the people of the province. We have also highlighted the importance of addressing unemployment decisively, as we are of the view that they needed to align education and skills development through the establishment of community colleges,” said Tembe.
On the impact of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), Tembe said this was not a new concept considering what had been happening overseas and in South Africa's mines.
“The impact of the 4IR being around technology development and application is really upon us. That brings forth the importance of addressing the issue of skills development. Let me repeat, relevant skills development and ensuring those skills are aligned to the industry.”
He said many views were shared that the province had to go back to the days where it had enterprise development that was based on apprenticeships.
“We are geared up to go out there to ensure that we work at great speed to address the issues of economic growth, youth unemployment and unemployment in general,” said Tembe.
"We are geared to go out there to ensure that we work at great speed to address the issues of economic growth, youth unemployment and unemployment in general," said Moses Tembe, KZN Growth Coalition Co-chairperson.