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Despite the economic decline induced by COVID-19, the KwaZulu-Natal youth empowerment programme has created over 130 000 jobs.

The empowerment programme, known as Sukuma 100 000, is implemented across all provincial government departments, including State-owned entities and partners in the private sector.

“Last year, we stated our ambition to support 100 000 job opportunities for jobless young people, including unemployed graduates.

“We created 137 000 jobs under Sukuma 100 000, surpassing the target,” KwaZulu-Natal Premier, Sihle Zikalala, said on Friday when tabling the State of the Province Address (SOPA).

The programme is implemented through various programmes including internships, learnerships, apprenticeship and in-service training, amongst others.

Zikalala said the provincial government has turned COVID-19 devastation into economic opportunity, and has supported local industries owned by young and black people.

The Premier said through the KZN Youth Fund Programme, several enterprises were able to thrive, despite the pandemic. One of the beneficiaries of the Youth Fund is Gelanison Agric, an agricultural initiative that produces high value crops using the hydroponic system.

Gelanison Agric, a project situated in Ndlangubo in the uMlalazi Municipality, was awarded R2 million from the Youth Fund towards the erection of 10 greenhouse tunnels, water sourcing and fencing for the five hectares of land the project stands on.  

Once it becomes fully operational, the project is expected to employ approximately 30 permanent staff and 20 part-time youth.  

Another beneficiary of the Youth Fund is telecommunications company, AdNotes, which was awarded R857 000.

AdNotes is 100% black and youth-owned, providing internet services in the Ugu and King Cetshwayo Districts, and eThekwini Metropolitan. The company has also managed to employ nine permanent staff.

Economic reconstruction 

As the whole country works towards economic recovery, Zikalala said the Provincial Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan focuses on harnessing provincial export capacity in order to maximise potential from untapped markets from the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement.

Zikalala said the province will launch the KwaZulu-Natal Africa Export Strategy by May 2021.

Meanwhile, through Trade and Investment KwaZulu-Natal (TIKZN), the Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (EDTEA) Department is working to support export initiatives that will create at least 2 240 jobs.

“The TIKZN plan to target Africa and the East will create 400 jobs and R100 million worth of exports.

“The EDTEA KZN Exporter Competitiveness Programme will sustain 1 500 jobs and R30 million worth of exports.

“The Arts and Crafts Market Access Programme will create 70 jobs and R2 million worth of exports, while Africa Fashion Exchange will create 70 jobs and R2 million worth of exports,” Zikalala said.

Tourism Recovery Plan 

An amount of R20 million has been aside by government towards the KZN Tourism Relief Fund, which is aimed at providing relief to majority black-owned tourism businesses.

“The fund is modelled along the 2020 National Tourism Relief Fund and will be capped at R50 000 per business.  A strong focus has been placed on rural tourism, as well as on women and youth-owned businesses.

“The projects include the development of a tourism precinct at Howick Falls in uMgungundlovu District Municipality; improvements at KwaXolo Caves Adventures in Ugu District Municipality; and the construction of uMtubatuba Tourism Information and SMME Centre in uMkhanyakude District Municipality. 

“We continue bidding for future events through the Durban KZN Convention Bureau and we have secured several events for 2021,” the Premier said.

SAnews.gov.za

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