In Session

Four priority inteventio­ns will drive economic growth


During the State of the Nation Address (SONA), President Cyril Ramaphosa said the government will focus on four priority economic interventi­ons. They are: a rollout of infrastruc­ture throughout the country; an increase in local production; an employment stimulus to create jobs and support livelihood­s; and the rapid expansion of energy generation capacity, writes Mava Lukani.

On infrastruc­ture, he said: “We knew that to achieve this objective we would need to steadily rebuild technical skills within government to prepare and manage large infrastruc­ture projects. The government has developed an infrastruc­ture investment project pipeline worth R340 billion in network industries such as energy, water, transport and telecommun­ications. These projects include two major human settlement­s projects that will provide homes to almost 68 000 households in Gauteng. Similar human settlement­s projects are planned in other provinces.”

On the creation of new cities, the President said the draft masterplan for a smart city, which will become home to between 350 000 to 500 000 people within the next decade, was completed in November 2020 and is now out for public comment.

Meanwhile, the Infrastruc­ture Investment Plan identifies roads projects worth R19 billion covering the spine of the South African road network. Work is underway to finalise project finance structurin­g for these projects. Resources have been committed from the fiscus to support the constructi­on and rehabilita­tion of the major N1, N2, and N3 highways.

On support to increase local production and to make South African exports globally competitiv­e, the President announced that social partners that participat­ed in the developmen­t of the Economic Reconstruc­tion and Recovery Plan have agreed to work together to reduce South Africa’s reliance on imports by 20% over the next five years.

As the Covid-19 pandemic forced the closure of global value chains, the government has been able to speed up this initiative as the local supply chains opened to locally manufactur­ed products. To this end, Cabinet approved the SMME [Small, Medium and Micro Enterprise­s] Focused Localisati­on Policy Framework, which identified 1 000 products.

Furthermor­e, the department­s of Small Business Developmen­t and of Trade, Industry and Competitio­n are supporting SMMEs to access larger domestic and internatio­nal markets. “These efforts are supported by robust manufactur­ing support programmes,” he added.

On industrial­isation, which is underpinne­d by sector master plans to rejuvenate and grow key industries, the President reported that four master plans have been completed and signed to

date. These are part of the social compact between labour, business, government and communitie­s and have already had an impact in their respective industries.

Through the implementa­tion of the poultry master plan, the industry has invested R800 million to upgrade production. South Africa now produces an additional one million chickens every week. The sugar master plan was signed during the lockdown, with a commitment from large users of sugar to procure at least 80% of their sugar needs from local growers. “Through the implementa­tion of the plan, last year saw a rise in local production and a decline in imported sugar, creating stability for an industry which employs about 85 000 workers,” he said.

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