Gauteng eyes mega special economic zone

Monday, February 18, 2019

The Gauteng government will be more aggressive and decisive in pushing their vision of turning the province into a single, multi-tier, mega special economic zone.

The provincial government has already started a compact and highly integrated single economy, Premier David Makhura said on Monday.

He was delivering his last State of the Province Address (SOPA) at the Alberton Civic Centre, Ekurhuleni, ahead of the May general elections.

Makhura used his speech to reflect on the progress made by the province since the dawn of democracy.

The economy has grown five times - from R290 billion in 1996 to R1.5 trillion in 2017.

The number of people employed in the Gauteng economy has also doubled – from 2.6 million in 1996 to 5.163 million in 2018.

Township economy

The provincial government has made irrefutable progress in the township economy by providing financial and non-financial support, access to markets and invested substantial resources in industrial infrastructures such as agri-parks, industrial parks, automotive hubs and eKasi Labs.

Prior to 2014, Makhura said the provincial government’s procurement spent on township businesses was R600 million and over the past five years has procured goods and services from township businesses, worth more than R22 billion.

“Gauteng is the pioneer, laboratory and leader in the revitalisation and transformation of township enterprises into sustainable and job-creating businesses.”

One of the great stories of the township economy is how the transformative partnership between Pick n Pay, Old Mutual Masisizane Fund, Gauteng Enterprise Propeller and township spaza shop owners moved 11 spaza shops from survivalist to sustainable businesses.

The programme, Makhura said, has enabled spaza shops to be converted into decent retail shops that have grown, on average from making R10 000 per month to R300 000 per month in profit.

In addition, the 11 township retailers have collectively created 220 new jobs in the townships as a result of their growth.   

“There is no doubt that our programme to revitalise the township economy has captured the imagination of millions of people. Township businesspeople are taking their destiny into their own hands,” Makhura said.

The Premier committed that the province will continue to create an enabling environment for the growth and sustainability of township businesses - while riding off illegal business spawning.

“The people of Gauteng, let me make it clear: we will not allow global criminal syndicates to take over townships and displace genuine township businesses. We are determined to close any illegally operating business in every part of our province.”

Already, law enforcement teams are moving in the municipalities, townships, suburbs and CBDs to put a stop to these criminal operations.

Bringing women into the mainstream economy

The Transformation, Modernisation and Re-industrialisation programme which aims is to bring women into the mainstream economy of the province - has also borne fruits.

Makhura reported, that his government spends 23% procuring goods and services from businesses owned by women while more than 7 000 women-owned cooperatives received financial and non-financial support.

“Women constitute the majority of the beneficiaries of most of the programmes of this ANC-led administration – 60% of the beneficiaries of the agri-enterprise programme; 55% of the bursary programme; 60% of Tshepo 1 Million and 65% of housing delivered.”

Over the past two years, more than 100 000 women have benefitted from public employment opportunities through the Expanded Public Works and Community Works Programmes.

The success of Welfare-to-Work pilot programme has also transitioned close to 36 000 young mothers who used to depend on child support grants, to proper jobs and self-employment through training and skills development.

Makhura said the young women are taking their destiny into their own hands by doing things for themselves.  

“The successes of these young women represent the general spirit of the women of Gauteng. They don’t give up. They want to live independent and fulfilling lives. We too will not give up the fight for gender equality and women empowerment.”

Gauteng Economic Development Plan

Another key economic project that the provincial government introduced was the Gauteng Economic Development Plan which has eleven key sectors located in five corridors – Northern, Eastern, Southern, Western and Central.

This programme - jointly with industry leaders - has put a lot of efforts towards the revitalisation of the manufacturing industry, focusing on the automotive sector, machinery and capital equipment, mineral beneficiation, aerospace industries, food and beverages and pharmaceuticals.  

Looking ahead, Makhura announced that six companies have committed to collectively invest more than R40 billion in the various corridors over the next twelve months.

These include the AB InBev planned investment in Emfuleni, TMH investment to revive DCD’s train manufacturing operations, and ACSA’s investment at O.R Tambo in Ekurhuleni planned investment by Cummins Engineering and CCL labs investments in Midrand, Johannesburg.

Car manufacture Ford is planning an expansion in Silverton and the Rainbow Junction investment mega investment in Tshwane, while the partnership with Reggio Emilia and Italian original equipment manufacturers (Ferrari, Maserati, Lamborghini), Chamdor is being developed into a township automotive hub.

Sibanye-Stillwater and Far West Rand Dolomitic Association made a commitment to release 30 000 hectares of land for the development of the agri-industrial cluster in West Rand.

Makhura said Gauteng is also leading the country in promoting intra-Africa trade with Gauteng based businesses having more than 300 Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) projects, worth R356 billion, across the major regions of the continent.

These projects have created and sustained more than 45 000 jobs in Gauteng while contributing to Africa’s industrialisation.

“All the afore-mentioned initiatives on the township economy, mainstream economy, infrastructure development and inter-Africa trade have helped us to create new jobs and sustain existing ones.”

Job creation

With regards to job creation, Makhura reported that Gauteng had 4.7 million people employed in 2014 and now has more than 5.1 million people employed.

This means that there are over 469 000 net new jobs that have been added to the provincial economy over the past five years. 

“The scale and impact of what we are doing with our industry leaders in the priority sectors of our provincial economy are incomparable. But we need greater coordination and collaboration within the Gauteng City Region if we are to maximise the impact.”

To keep the momentum, Makhura said the province needs to bring all social partners on board, especially labour. -