Noxolo Kiviet is the premier of the Eastern Cape.

Bisho - The Eastern Cape is a much better place now than it was 20 years ago, premier Noxolo Kiviet said on Friday.

“From the beginning, we declared confidently that we were ready to govern,” she said her state-of-the-province address prepared for delivery.

“It is now time to give account of the work.”

Kiviet, speaking in the provincial legislature in Bisho, said between 1994 and 2008 the Eastern Cape's economy grew at twice the rate it did in the last 15 years of apartheid.

The 2008 global economic recession had ended the province's longest period of sustained growth.

“It should, therefore, not be surprising that over the past five years the economy grew at a moderate average rate of 1.9 percent, while the unemployment rate over the same period averaged at 27

percent,” she said.

In response to the recession, the provincial government had developed the provincial industrial development strategy and the jobs strategy. It also intensified implementation of the expanded public works programme.

“Through these measures we supported companies in distress,” said Kiviet.

“As a result, government was able to save 5000 critical manufacturing jobs that would otherwise have been lost.”

The province had seen some investment in logistics projects and industrial development zones were beginning to work.

The Eastern Cape government had also consolidated the province as the country's leading automotive hub, she said.

On building social and economic infrastructure, Kiviet said the province's infrastructure expenditure had improved from 79.7 percent in 2010 to 93.6 percent in 2013.

Since 2009 the province had built 61 131 houses against a term target of 54 000.

Of the 1516 new schools built in the province in the past 20 years, 202 were built in the past five years, Kiviet said.

Nine hospital were revitalised and had their theatres, intensive care units, and medical and surgical wards upgraded.

Kiviet said over R11 billion had been spent on road construction and maintenance in the province.

With respect to municipal infrastructure, 1 472 880 households had water, compared to 1 174 187 in 2008. This was a 12 percent improvement, she said.

There had been improvements in strengthening education. No district in the province had a below 50 percent matric pass rate compared to 19 in 2009, she said.

The crime rate had stabilised in the province since 2009.

“Contact crimes show a four percent decrease over the past four years, and the ability of the police to detect crime increased at a rate of more than five percent.

“Our seriousness on the fight against violent crimes, especially against vulnerable members of our communities, is evident in the heavy sentences meted against those convicted of such crimes,” said Kiviet.