The Star / 22 January 2013, 10:28am / Rabelani Dagada
The economy still relies on primary forms of production such as agriculture, forestry and fishing. In fact, agricultural production is declining steadily and the country has become a net importer of food. SA has been the biggest gold producer for nearly a century, but production has decreased substantially and it is now the third-largest gold producer, after China and Australia.
Another worrying factor is that Gauteng is quickly losing its status as the gateway to Africa. Due to innovation, cities such as Nairobi and Lagos are catching up. Gauteng should reclaim its status as the economic engine of the country and continent.
It is on this premise that I have decided to enter a career in politics as the DA Gauteng candidate for premier. My candidature will be subjected to the DA electoral college and other selection processes. I am sure that my candidature will succeed and that the DA will win the 2014 general elections in Gauteng.
The question that has been swirling in my head is what I will do to turn Gauteng around when I become premier. Over and above implementing the DA 8 percent growth strategy, I will take advantage of positive changes that are taking place in Africa.
Because of the ageing population in China and shrinking population growth in most European countries, most investors will migrate to Africa where there will be more than 3 billion consumers and 1.8 billion people of working age.
In 50 years’ time, the biggest single market of the middle class will be in Africa and this will attract investors. Consequently, most companies will migrate to Africa where there will be many consumers buying its products and using its services and it will have the biggest workforce.
The DA Gauteng provincial government will, under my leadership, ensure that these companies choose Gauteng as a city-region to which to move their head offices. Due to the fact that the Germans, Chinese and other investors will mainly have their head offices in Gauteng, we should start to engage and work with them to build infrastructure that will service their operations, and transport for their goods. Infrastructure will be built through public-private partnerships.
Due to the lack of infrastructure, trade amongst African countries is very limited.
As we move towards the next 50 years, the DA Gauteng administration will take leadership in encouraging intra-African trade by ensuring that there is availability of continental connectivity.
This connectivity will be brought on by massive construction and/or enhancement of infrastructural projects in the form of airports, seaports, rail, roads and border posts.
Gauteng as a regional gateway (like London, Dubai and Singapore) will facilitate free labour movements in Africa.
Something good about labour movements is that they will increase the flow of remittances acrossAfrican countries and there will be a huge reduction of xenophobic tendencies in Gauteng.
The increment of population, industrial production and agricultural activities will require huge quantities of water.
There is a lot of water underground and Gauteng will take leadership in inventing technology that will be employed to extract the ground water.
My administration will commission Gauteng universities to conduct research that will result in the innovation of technology that will be used in the rest of Africa to harvest rain water, to clean ocean water for consumption, and to recycle water.
Gauteng will also lead innovation to make sure that most production activities in manufacturing plants are done with less water.
Although gold deposits are getting exhausted in Gauteng and the world’s largest deposits of platinum group metals, which are situated in Rustenburg, will largely be depleted in 100 years’ time, there are still lots of mineral, gas and petroleum resources in the rest of Africa.
The DA administration should take advantage of this by ensuring that there are manufacturing plants in Gauteng to process these raw materials instead of shipping them to Asia. These will create millions of jobs in Gauteng.
The current practice where Africa exports its raw materials to China and later imports them as processed products is not sustainable, because China makes huge margins while Africa gets very little.
My administration will also work with the private sector to establish resources exploration banks which will fund exploration of resources beneath the African soil.
Currently, it is very difficult to get this kind of funding.
My administration will work with the national minister of education to improve the standard of education in technical colleges. Gauteng should produce technicians and artisans who will attract manufacturing companies to operate in our region.
Artisans create jobs for both unskilled labour and university graduates.
Unfortunately, under the ANC government the technical colleges sector was characterised by paralysis, high student drop-out, and a high failure rate and the DA will fix this.
l Dagada is a development economist based at the Wits Business School. He is also a member of the DA Gauteng provincial executive and national federal council. You can follow him on Twitter: Rabelani_Dagada