State of the Province Address – Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry press release

(Posted by DURBAN CHAMBER, 29/10/15)

A clear focus for KwaZulu-Natal

KwaZulu-Natal Premier Senzo Mchunu on Friday delivered a succinct State of the Province Address clearly demonstrating the focus this province has in implementing key areas within the provincial Growth and Development Plan, Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry CEO Dumile Cele said.

She said the address spoke directly to the seven critical areas of job creation, skills development, infrastructure, environmental sustainability, the social environment, governance and the spatial focus required to spreading development opportunities across KwaZulu-Natal.

“Implementation in these areas is key and business looks forward to covering more ground in the 2015/2016 financial year, confident in the knowledge we have the ears of the Premier and his Cabinet,” Cele said.

The State of the Province Address continued the golden thread launched during President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation Address and present during Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene’s Budget speech, essentially talking to targets within the context of the provincial scenario.

While acknowledging the current provincial government had only held position since the May 2014 general election, Mchunu said they had held fast to the targets outlined during the first term of the provincial growth and development plan. KwaZulu-Natal had made strides in implementing the objectives in line with the national Growth and Development Plan.

Employment in KwaZulu-Natal had risen from 2.1 million people in 2010 to 2,4 million currently, which he said was despite the sluggish economic environment. This spoke to the province’s poverty eradication plan and dove-tailed on a microeconomic level with the development initiatives and potential on the Makhathini Flats.

In July Mchunu announced the Makhathini Flats would receive a R1,1 billion investment to revamp agriculture and improve agricultural infrastructure. The main focus of the investment would be livestock, irrigation infrastructure and planting various rare crops including ground nuts and cassava.

Mchunu said the province had also implemented the first stage of Operation Phakisa, the national initiative aimed at unlocking the economic potential of South Africa’s oceans.

When Zuma unveiled Operation Phakisa in July 2014, he said the oceans had the potential to contribute up to R177 billion towards the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) by 2033 compared to only R54 billion in 2010.

Mchunu said the Dube Trade Port had acquired its Industrial Development Zone (IDZ) status in the past financial year, while a master plan had been detailed for the Richards Bay IDZ development. Provincial government was working on securing a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) status for Dube Trade Port in the current year.

“Lastly, Mchunu outlined the focus on increased investment to the province, specifically within infrastructural projects in line with the national Growth and Development Plan and the New Growth Path. His seven-point plan would ensure KwaZulu-Natal delivered on their objectives,” Cele said.

In the past year KwaZulu-Natal had secured several key private sector investment projects like seeing South Korean multinational Samsung investing $20 million into building a television manufacturing plant in Dube Trade Port. Another one included the R6 billion Keystone clean industrial park in Hammarsdale that would involve constructing a whole new town from scratch and require a R275 million interchange on the N3 to access the strategic node.

“In this province, we fully recognise the role of the private sector to grow the economy and create jobs and the government will continue creating an investment-friendly environment,” Mchunu said.

Cele said the seven points Mchunu outlined meant decisively dealing with the energy crisis; dealing with any marketplace conflicts; revitalising the agricultural value chain; looking at means by which to grow manufacturing and support beneficiation projects within the sector that had a direct impact on exports and South Africa’s balance of payments position and “triple P” investments, namely public private partnerships, and how there could be collaboration with business to create an enabling environment that unlocks these partnerships; small and medium enterprise (SME) growth hand-in-hand with reduced red tape that ensured SMEs were paid timeously and consolidating the information and communications technology (ICT) sector to roll-out high speed broadband access business and the social sector including schools.

“The issues of manufacturing and public private partnerships are particularly close to business’s heart, but manufacturing specifically cannot come to fruition without resolving the energy crisis, making that issue another of importance for the city’s business community,” Cele said.

One particularly important project availing itself to public private partnerships was Durban’s bid to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games, Cele concluded.