Gauteng is pinning its hope on infrastructure development to create much-needed jobs as the effects of COVID-19 continue to batter the country’s economy.
Speaking during the State of the Province Address (SOPA) on Tuesday, Premier David Makhura revealed that Gauteng shed 660 000 jobs during the pandemic, while 42% of small businesses were forced to close with no hope of ever re-opening.
However, according to the Premier, the Growing Gauteng Together (GGT2030) remains a priority although the plan had to be adjusted due to COVID-19.
“We have a common vision and plan of action for the immediate and long term development of each metro or district, regardless of the changes that may happen from time to time in the local and provincial government.”
He said the Gauteng city region is taking the lead in implementing the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan announced by President Ramaphosa.
The Premier said the province was focusing on high-growth priority sectors and infrastructure investment projects to unlock the transformation, modernisation and reindustrialisation of the province’s city region.
These sectors include automotive, aerospace and defence; transportation and logistics; information communication and technology; energy; tourism and hospitality; food, beverages, agro-processing and agribusiness; construction and infrastructure; financial services; cultural and creative services and industrial cannabis.
Tshwane Automotive Special Economic Zone (TASEZ)
He said it was the province’s goal to have at least one Special Economic Zone (SEZs) in each district or metro, specialising in distinct sectors and industries in each corridor.
Meanwhile, progress is being made at the Tshwane Automotive Special Economic Zone (TASEZ) of which government put in R3.3 billion, unlocking R4.3 billion investment by suppliers and a further R15.8 billion investment announced by Ford Motor Company.
“This is the biggest foreign direct investment since the 2010 World Cup,” he added.
According to Makhura, TASEZ will produce over 200 000 vehicles by 2022, working with the Mamelodi community and entrepreneurs.
In addition, he said the initiative will provide non-financial and financial support to 262 small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs).
He said over R1.7 billion has already been allocated to SMMES, while an additional R531 million of work will be given to township SMMEs for the construction of the first set of factories.
In addition, 3 288 new permanent jobs will be created at this SEZ in the next 12 months of which 1 200 by Ford and 2 088 by the suppliers.
According to the Premier, 8 600 construction-related jobs have already been created during phase one.
“The Tshwane Automotive Special Economic Zone is a prime example of our vision of spatial and economic transformation and integration of township enterprises, Black-owned, women-owned, and youth-owned businesses into supply chains of big corporates.”
He said the success of the TASEZ has also created a new momentum for the development of the Gauteng-Eastern Cape Freight Rail Corridor, which will be operational by 2025.
Vaal River City SEZ
Meanwhile, he said the province is working closely with the Sedibeng District Municipality, Department of Trade, Industry and Competition, and the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) on the development of the Vaal River City SEZ.
He has described this project as a game-changer for the economy of Sedibeng.
The DBSA has since committed R1 billion to the development and upgrading of bulk infrastructure in the region to unlock all major developments in the Sedibeng.
“I am happy to report that work on the West Rand SEZ is progressing well,” he said, adding that Sibanye Still Water, along the N12 Corridor, made about 100 hectares of land available.
“We are working hard to ensure this SEZ is completed by 2024.”
The Premier said the province has improved collaboration significantly over the past year.
Lanseria Smart City Master Plan
Makhura told the legislature that the province is coordinating efforts in unlocking investment in the City of Johannesburg, the province’s economic hub for the province and financial nerve centre in Africa.
Meanwhile, he said all stakeholders have signed off the Lanseria Smart City Master Plan, announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa announced, during the State of the Nation Address.
This includes the private sector, the four municipalities involved and the DBSA, which are funding the project.
“The Gauteng provincial government and municipalities are tackling all issues that will improve the ease of doing business and enhance the attractiveness of our city region as the preferred destination for domestic and foreign direct investment.”
He said the province was “marshalling” resources to fund public infrastructure in order to unlock social and economic development in five corridors and districts.
This will be done by cutting red tape to fast-track development approvals and building a network of schools of specialisation that are providing sector-specific skills in line with the identified high-growth sectors in each district, he added.
Makhura said building and maintaining an efficient road network and providing affordable and reliable public transport is crucial for residents and the economy.
The province has committed to construct and rehabilitate 18 arterial roads to integrate and improve the movement of goods and services in the province.
“Limited activity in the construction sector due to COVID-19 slowed down some infrastructure projects,” he explained.
However, the construction of phase two of the N14 has been completed as well as the R28 that connects the West Rand and Sedibeng districts.
“Substantial work is also underway to patch, rehabilitate and resurface major roads that were affected by the recent heavy rains.”
Meanwhile, another key area includes investment in public transport infrastructure-logistical hubs, intermodal facilities, rolling stock, buses and taxis remains key.
He also announced that the government would go ahead with the Gautrain expansion to the Eastern, Western and Southern parts, although the purchase of additional coaches has discontinued due to the downward trend in demand.
He also spoke about the Gauteng Transport Authority, which aims to take the province closer to the single, integrated, inter-modal, reliable, safe and affordable public transport system.
“We will have a single ticket for all modes of transport in Gauteng by the end of this financial year.”
“As Gauteng was losing 660 000 jobs during COVID-19, we had substantial activities through our social development, youth development and infrastructure initiatives to create both short term and permanent jobs.”
He said government departments created 15 152 jobs in the social sector, while the infrastructure sector yielded 6 909 opportunities, giving 22 000 jobs and enhancing the employability of participants.
Also, he said Gauteng municipalities created 10 581 work opportunities through social, infrastructure and environment programmes amid COVID-19.
The Welfare-to-Work programme created 3 000 jobs and small business opportunities for young mothers, moving them out of child support grants.
In addition, the Tshepo 1 Million Programme created opportunities for 94 839 young people to formal placement in jobs, internships, learnership and business opportunities.