All Gauteng regions including Pretoria and Joburg are set to get investments worth billions of rand to improve their infrastructure, including new housing developments across the province.
Gauteng Premier David Makhura revealed multifaceted plans on how his government aimed to turn the tide against unemployment, including enhancing the ability of businesses in townships to operate legally and officially.
He made the commitments during the State of the Province Address (Sopa) that was held at the Brixton Multipurpose Centre yesterday.
Makhura said one of the most enduring policy interventions of this sixth administration was the introduction of the Township Economic Development Bill, saying they reported in the last State of the Province Address that the Bill would be tabled in the Legislature in 2021.
“The Legislature public hearings are still under way, and as the Executive Council, we keenly await this Legislature to pass the bill into law.
“I would like to reiterate that this ground-breaking piece of legislation seeks to address the following:
● Create new developmental regulations and by-laws that will make it simpler, easier and cheaper to formalise more than 90% of informal businesses, thus enabling these businesses to access financial and non-financial support from the government and the private sector.
● Set up an institutional and legal mandate for the creation of the Township Economy Partnership Fund, which will pull both public and private sector resources to fund township-based businesses, especially small businesses and start-ups that find it difficult to access funding from financial institutions.
● Create a legal framework for provincial government and municipalities to support the development of township real estate, turning taxi ranks into business hubs and providing infrastructure in township high streets or commercial nodes.“
He said they were encouraged by the widespread support for this plan echoed across the five corridors of the province.
“In the public hearings, it is a matter of great interest that the primary beneficiaries of this transformative piece of legislation should be the local entrepreneurs. In response to the immediate challenges faced by businesses, the Gauteng provincial government and partners set up a fund that has already raised R500 million, R100m of which is earmarked for supporting the recovery and rebuilding of township businesses affected by both Covid-19 and the July unrest,” Makhura said.
He said their ongoing work of supporting township businesses was borne out by the inspiring stories of township entrepreneurs who have triumphed over the Covid-19 pandemic.
In the past year alone, 56 township businesses were incubated successfully at the provincial government eKasiLabs.
“Thembisa eKasiLab incubated Ms Phumzile Mthembu, who had been unemployed for years. She is a proud owner of Ingcweti, the first baby skincare brand in Thembisa, Ekurhuleni, trading as PureB Baby Care.”
He said the construction of the Tshwane Automotive Special Economic Zone (SEZ) during the pandemic demonstrated their sense of urgency and the kind of emergency response required to deal with the economic challenges.
“I am happy to give an update that there are 12 component manufacturers already operating in the Tshwane SEZ, while construction work is continuing.
“I am pleased to announce that in line with the commitment we made in the last Sopa, 3 440 permanent jobs have been created, exceeding the target of 3 288 jobs.
“Thus far R1 billion has already been spent through the construction phase on SMMEs from Mamelodi township using what is now recognised as a benchmark local contractor development system.
“It’s all systems go, hopefully we will soon witness the manufacturing of the first new Ford Ranger at the Tshwane Automotive SEZ,” Makhura said.
He also announced a major infrastructure development in the Vaal, saying a major new development regarding the Vaal River SEZ is the R45bn commitment by local investors at the October 2021Sedibeng Investment Conference.
The Vaal River SEZ will host the following critical sectors: the new Vaal River Smart City, Green Hydrogen Innovation Hub, the cannabis hub, agro-logistics, aerotropolis, aerodrome, air freight and the revitalised steel manufacturing sector.
“All four municipalities in the district have collectively made land available for this SEZ development. Notwithstanding some delays in the finalisation of the master plan, we are firmly on track to kickstart the revitalisation of the Sedibeng economy this year.
“The construction of the next phase of OR Tambo SEZ remains on track, albeit with challenges. We are engaging our anchor tenants, such as De Beers Diamonds and In2Food Factory, to consider expanding their portfolio of investment to grow the economy and create more job opportunities.
“A new major development to report towards the realisation of the West Rand Agri-SEZ is the commitment by Maximum Group to invest R20bn in an agri-processing hub and industrial park.
“Work is continuing on the N12 Corridor development with the mining houses and other private sector partners to facilitate and speed up investments on solar farms, urban agriculture, green hydrogen as well as the expansion of the Busmark manufacturing facility,” Makhura said
He said the the provincial government, working in conjunction with the Presidency, had established the project management office (PMO) for the Lanseria Smart City development.
The main focus of the PMO is to drive the implementation of the master plan by focusing on two critical areas, namely securing sufficient land and ensuring the acceleration of bulk infrastructure investment that will unlock R85bn worth of private sector investment.
“Lanseria will be a hub of the digital technology and services corridor, anchored by the new Hi-Tech SEZ in Lanseria. We are laying the ground for the Global Business Services SEZ at Nasrec by deploying, through our action lab partnership with the sector, a plug and play global business services hub,” Makhura said.