KZN economy is on the road to recovery

KZN Premier Nomusa Dube-Ncube (right) arrives for the 2024 KZN State of the Province Address with Siboniso Duma, Leader of Government Business and MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs.

KZN Premier Nomusa Dube-Ncube (right) arrives for the 2024 KZN State of the Province Address with Siboniso Duma, Leader of Government Business and MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs.

Published Mar 4, 2024



KwaZulu-Natal Premier Nomusa Dube-Ncube - delivering her State of the Province Address on Wednesday, February 28 - said the province was on the road to economic recovery after the Covid-19 pandemic, the July 2021 unrest and continuous floods.

The private sector had been roped in during the Covid-19 pandemic - and work with the sector, spearheaded by the KZN Economic Council and KZN Growth Coalition, had led to the development of an Economic Transformation and Recovery Plan for the province.

Government and the private sector are focused on resuscitating companies through critical interventions such as import replacement and localisation where companies are encouraged to buy local.

His Majesty King Misuzulu kaZwelithini.

Economic rebuild

The Premier said the government had rebranded and aggressively marketed the province not only as one of South Africa's tourist hotspots, but also as a premium investment destination - partnering with companies to safeguard employment within the existing investor base, while also seeking to identify and recruit new investors.

This had led to growth in investment and a commitment to job creation among KZN companies, despite the steepest global downturn in a generation.

Part of this economic rebuild has included the South African Special Risk Insurance Association (SASRIA) spending more than R20 billion rebuilding shopping malls and businesses affected by the social unrest; and more than R2bn spent on rebuilding economic infrastructure damaged by the floods, resulting in more than 192 000 jobs being saved. In addition, the Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs allocated R67 million towards flood relief for businesses affected by the floods of 2022 and 2023.

“Having almost been brought to its knees by the floods, the civil unrest and global economic challenges, today our economy is back on its feet, gradually addressing the damage which is estimated to be in the region of R33bn,” Dube-Ncube said.

Clean governance

The first priority is to build a public sector that is an increasingly more effective set of machinery for development; building its critical human and technical resources while leaving no one behind, she said.

The Premier said the provincial government has been uncompromising in its dedication to clean government - focusing on fighting fraud and corruption, ending wasteful and irregular expenditure, and increasing the number of departments that obtain clean audits from the Auditor General.

Consequence management has been implemented and since 2019, 508 investigations have been instituted, of which 482 have been concluded. In addition, more than 113 officials have been placed on precautionary suspension and 1492 disciplinary inquiries have since been finalised, with 78 disciplinary cases currently pending across the province.

Job creation

On job creation in the province, the Port of Durban’s R1.34-bn investment programme aimed at upgrading port facilities to mainly increase port capacity, created 1 328 jobs.

The Passenger Rail Agency South Africa (Prasa) spent more than R900 million in KwaZulu-Natal through its investment and infrastructure capital programme; and in 2023, the R2-bn Dr Pixley ka Isaka Seme Regional Hospital was officially opened - creating 5 312 jobs during construction.

The provincial government had also partnered with the private sector to stimulate the economy with projects worth over R129bn, with more than 339 000 jobs created.

Former KwaZulu-Natal premiers, Dr Zweli Mkhize (left) and Ambassador Sibusiso Ndebele.

Township and rural development

Under-development in townships and rural areas remains an enormous challenge and over the years the government has prioritised programmes to address this.

These include broadband, shared production infrastructure, spaza shops, informal trading infrastructure, and promoting investment in retail malls and industries as a way of reviving and stimulating townships and rural areas.

The Premier said that when the ANC took over the provincial government in 2004, a total of 50% of the province’s households were vulnerable to hunger. This figure had dropped to 12% by 2022.

Life had improved for people living in townships from KwaMashu to uMkhanyakude. In 1996, only 46% of these communities had access to electricity, while today this stands at over 97%. Water provision has also been significantly improved, with 85% of households now having access to piped tap water.

International routes

The attraction of more direct international flights to King Shaka International Airport is key to growing the economy, regional trade and tourism in particular, Dube-Ncube said.

“We have brought our initiatives back on track to attract more airlines to fly into King Shaka. We are grateful to Emirates Airlines, Qatar Airways, Turkish Airlines, Airlink, eSwatini Air and others for reinvesting in this route to create easier access to not only the neighbouring countries, but globally as well.”


The Premier reported that since the dawn of democracy in 1994, 690 000 housing units had been built in KwaZulu-Natal. This is in addition to the 130 000 sites that have been made available over the same 30-year period.


On energy security, it was revealed that the KZN Executive Council had approved the declaration of Richards Bay as the centre for handling strategic commodities in the energy sector, with a project that will create more than 1000 jobs. This focus will enable between 3000MW and 5000MW of additional electricity to be supplied to the national grid in line with the Integrated Resource Plan.

“Although load shedding will remain a challenge in the immediate future, its severity will begin to ease as some of the more targeted initiatives recently announced begin to take effect.

“We are currently witnessing a surge in investment that will not only address the electricity supply shortfall in years to come, but will propel growth and create jobs at a higher rate of return.”

Infrastructure and logistics

Regarding the rehabilitation of roads and bridges, the Department of Transport is implementing 730 prioritised projects. It is partnering with the Independent Development Trust (IDT) and transferred R615mn to the agency to implement projects, mostly in eThekwini. A total of 50 bridges are targeted to be built by the end of the 2023/2024 financial year.

“We are excited by Transnet National Ports Authority’s recent announcement of the selected terminal operators for the development of the multi-billion mega liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal and the ambitious bunkering fuel terminal at the Port of Richards Bay,” Dube-Ncube said.

These two projects are among a total of 31 flagship projects in progress in the Port of Richards Bay and Port of Durban under the portfolio of the KwaZulu-Natal Logistics Hub (KZNLH).

“Not only will the KZN-LH programme see an estimated capital investment of R155bn injected into our province’s ports, it will also create more than 570 000 jobs and see the generation of R413bn in new business opportunities.”

Law enforcement

On giving additional resources to police, KZN’s police capacity has been augmented since 2020 by new members - and in the past two years, more than 4 000 new police officers have been recruited.

In the 2024/25 financial year, the Department of Community Safety and Liaison will establish a Community Safety Intervention Unit (CSIU) which will work together with other law-enforcement agencies as a force multiplier - “proactively and reactively fighting crime in our communities”.

Crime fighting will be further strengthened through the recruitment of 1000 social crime prevention volunteers covering the entire province. The SAPS has also announced significant improvements in the allocation of resources, with more vehicles and trainee constables being made available.