The Minister of Economic Development, Ebrahim Patel, is shown around the 22 on Sloane campus in Johannesburg by the co-chairperson of Global Entrepreneurship Network, Kizito Okechukwu.  I  Supplied
The Minister of Economic Development, Ebrahim Patel, is shown around the 22 on Sloane campus in Johannesburg by the co-chairperson of Global Entrepreneurship Network, Kizito Okechukwu. I Supplied

Building a Gauteng of dreams

By Kizito Okechukwu Time of article published Mar 3, 2020

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JOHANNESBURG - Last week I attended Gauteng Premier David Makhura’s State of the Province address at the Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University in Ga-Rankuwa.

The speech was one of the best I had heard and the obvious passion in his tone made it evident that he would deliver on his plans.

He unveiled a plan of action to galvanise the energy and creativities of all sectors of the population to take specific actions towards the Gauteng of our dreams.

He also made it clear that the most important goal is to grow the economy in order to massively increase the number of new jobs, while sustaining existing jobs in Gauteng.

He identified seven priorities and specific interventions in strategic sectors and corridors to achieve optimal outcomes during the decade, which are: economy, jobs and infrastructure; education, skills and healthcare; sustainable human settlements, new cities and land release; safety, social cohesion and food security; a sustainable future for all; building a capable, ethical and developmental state; building a better Africa and better world.

I will focus on the economy, jobs and infrastructure.

According to the Premier, Gauteng will achieve its jobs target by focusing on these high-growth sectors: energy, with a focus on new technologies and a diverse energy mix; transportation and logistics; ICT, media and digital services (the digital economy); tourism and hospitality; food, beverages, agro-processing and agribusiness; construction and infrastructure; automotive, aerospace and defence; financial services; cultural and creative industries and the industrialisation of cannabis.

The province will improve the ease of doing business in each sector, develop a skilled workforce for each industry and build an enabling infrastructure, including special economic zones (SEZ’s) and industrial parks.

By 2025, the Gauteng City region will have three fully operating SEZ’s in Ekurhuleni, Tshwane and Sedibeng and a special agro-processing zone on the West Rand.

In addition, there will be 15 revitalised industrial parks, 12 agri-parks and five agro-processing facilities across the five corridors. This will be a single industrial ecosystem that supports the 10 high-growth sectors and township small, micro and medium enterprises (SMME’s).

By 2030, Gauteng will have the biggest inland logistics hub and dry port in Africa - the Transnet Tambo-Springs Logistics Gateway. This will give the province a major competitive advantage on the continent.

Globally competitive infrastructure and logistics capabilities will also unleash the potential of the 10 high growth sectors, create massive job opportunities and facilitate the entry of new SMMEs, township businesses and black industrialists into the mainstream of our economy.

In the next five years, the Gauteng provincial government will spend R60billion on building and maintaining infrastructure, which will contribute to the creation of an additional 100000 jobs and facilitate the development of 50 black industrialists.

The province will up-scale its welfare to work programmes that will enable 100000 unemployed women (who currently depend on state grants), to advance to self-employment in the township economy.

Using the lever of the public procurement policy decisively to promote youth employment, women empowerment and the growth of black business and township based enterprises, the province will set up its empowerment programmes by:

  • Spending R4bn per annum on buying goods and services from 2000 township enterprises.
  • Using its infrastructure programme to support 50 black companies, enabling them to grow into significant players in the 10 high-growth sectors of the Gauteng economy.
  • Supporting 50 emerging black farmers and 20 black agro-processors to turn their businesses into full-scale commercial enterprises.
  • Supporting 500 co-operatives in the care economy through an enabling policy framework that will enable government to buy uniforms, dignity packs and food packs for vulnerable households directly from co-operatives, instead of going through established businesses.

The Premier also stated that materials for building houses, schools, hospitals, clinics, roads and government buildings must be sourced from local companies. Installations, repairs and maintenance on public facilities will be done by artisans from townships.

This year, the province will introduce the Township Economic Development Bill, which will nullify all by-laws that inhibit, frustrate and suppress the operations of SMMEs and informal businesses in the province. The new law will create conditions for SMMEs and township businesses to create wealth and employment as they grow and prosper.

Another important goal in the Premier’s plan to grow the economy is to increase Gauteng’s exports and trade within the continent.

The 10 identified high-growth sectors will produce manufactured goods and services that must be destined for the entire Africa Continental Free Trade Area.

Through the Gauteng Growth and Development Agency, the province will increase its exports to the continent by 15percent by 2025.

In 2030, intra-Africa trade should contribute to the creation and maintenance of 150000 jobs, up from the current 50000 jobs. It also intends to increase exports to major regions of the world by 10percent by 2025.

Finally, the province will continue to drive aggressive investment agendas to unlock major corridors and economic nodes across the five development corridors of the Gauteng City region.

In the Northern Corridor, its goal is to position Tshwane’s economy as the hub of the automotive industry in Gauteng. Other sectors include agriculture, agro-processing, defence, aerospace and aviation, as well as innovation, research and development.

In the Eastern Corridor, its goal is to consolidate Ekurhuleni as Africa’s largest aerotropolis and a major hub for manufacturing, transport and logistics in the SADC region. Other sectors include rail and bus manufacturing, defence and aerospace; food and beverages and agro-processing.

In the Southern Corridor, its goal is to build a new economy based on manufacturing, logistics, agriculture and agro-processing.

In the Western Corridor, its goal is mining, bus manufacturing, agri-business and agro-processing, renewable energy and tourism.

In the Central Corridor, its aim is to consolidate Johannesburg's position as Africa's financial and technological nerve centre with global competitive capabilities in business services, pharmaceuticals, innovation, research and development.

After the Premier’s address, I truly felt re-energised, reignited, hopeful and ready to go, especially, under the current economic clouds of uncertainty.

I believe that the Premier and his committed team will walk the talk towards achieving the ambitious goal of Growing Gauteng Together. I wish them all the best and I am excited to note the significant inclusion of start-ups and SMME’s in the Premier’s master plan, may they too benefit from these prospects.

Kizito Okechukwu is the co-chairperson of the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN) Africa; 22 on Sloane is Africa’s largest start-up campus.

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