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Western Cape can achieve breakout growth rates, assures its Economic Development head

27th October 2023

By: Rebecca Campbell

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

     

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The Western Cape economy indeed had the potential to achieve “breakout growth” rates of 4%/y to 6%/y, and the provincial government was determined to achieve these rates, through the implementation of its Growth for Jobs (G4J) plan. So assured Western Cape Economic Development and Tourism Department head Velile Dube in an address, hosted by the Bigen infrastructure development group, in Cape Town, on Thursday evening.

The Western Cape government was “an entrepreneurial government,” he affirmed. “Our job is to enable you [the private sector] and then step out of the way and let you do what you do best.”

Currently, the Western Cape has an economy worth about R642-billion. The aim of G4J is to increase this to a R1-trillion (in real terms) inclusive economy by 2035.

He highlighted that G4J had been approved by the provincial cabinet and was now being implemented. It was, he affirmed, a very ambitious plan, developed through consultations, including 44 workshops and engagements with more than 2 000 people. All had contributed to the plan.

The starting point for the development of G4J had been a simple question: why had the province’s economy been growing so slowly? The provincial government had undertaken a “growth diagnostic” to establish the Western Cape’s potential for economic growth.

This growth diagnostic had identified that the province had strong government; above average service delivery; good connections (with three ports and good road and, on paper, rail connections with the national primary economic hub of Gauteng province); and a lower unemployment rate (about 20%-21%) than the rest of the country. Further, 55% of the whole country’s agricultural exports now were done through the Western Cape, with products such as bananas, for example, brought in from other provinces. The province also had geographical advantages, both within South Africa and internationally (it lay roughly halfway between Asia and Europe).   

G4J had seven pillars, he pointed out. The first of these was driving growth opportunities through both public and private investment. The provincial government would invest R100-billion between now and 2035, while private sector investment over the same period was expected to total R200-billion, for a total figure of R300-billion. “We believe that number is viable,” he said.

The second pillar was to expand exports, a rubric which included tourism. The third pillar was energy; the province consumed about 4 000 MW of electricity, and planned to develop new sources of generation with a capacity of up to 5 700 MW, to power growth. The fourth pillar was water security and resilience, as the province has had water challenges.

The fifth pillar was technology and innovation. Technology, he pointed out, was essential to improve productivity. And technology and innovation could also support the provincial government in the provision of services to citizens.

The sixth pillar was infrastructure development and connectivity. It was essential, he stressed, to have the critical infrastructure necessary to support the agricultural sector. The recent floods had shown how agricultural exporters could be cut off. Roads were essential. And it was “absolutely critical” to get Cape Town harbour back to operating at its designed capacity. Further, when ore stopped being exported from Saldanha, that harbour should be converted into a container port.

The seventh pillar was to create employment by stimulating the development of local, especially small, businesses.

Achieving the objectives of G4J, he concluded, required collaboration, partnerships and implementation. 

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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