2016 the year of accelerated economic transformation says MEC Somyo
The Eastern Cape Government is to lead “efforts to unlock the economic potential” of the province and unblock constraints said MEC for Economic Affairs, Environmental Affairs and Tourism Sakhumzi Somyo who delivered the Department’s policy speech on Thursday.
Appointed in May 2014, Somyo’s third policy speech referred, in particular, to playing an “even greater role in localisation, export-led manufacturing, human capital and SMME development.
“We need to move ahead with the implementation of the National Development and the Eastern Cape’s Provincial Development plans,” he said.
In the coming year, the Department’s three priorities would be job creation, protecting the natural environment and strengthening the developmental state and good governance.
The pillars of economic transformation have been identified as energy production including renewable energy, agro-processing, small business development, support for the informal economy, the Buy EC campaign, support for companies in distress, tourism, skills development and the overhaul of IDZs to SEZs.
He said that the IDZs were performing ahead of its counterparts in attracting investments, creating jobs and providing skills including to the youth. In the 2016/17 alone, the two IDZs would create close to 18,000 jobs.
The ocean economy was also key to economic transformation of the province with the three ports successfully positioning the province as a strategic gateway to Africa.
He added that there were opportunities for the province in aquaculture, oil and gas, ship and boatbuilding, oil rig repair and bunkering.
Both IDZs had taken the development of their aquaculture development zones seriously and had made significant headway in their establishment. In total, 470 hectares had been earmarked for the ADZs at the local IDZs.
Another industry earmarked for investment and development was agro-processing.
Amongst the initiatives planned to leverage agriculture which was “one of the most valuable resources”, was the establishment of an agro-industrial park in Berlin.
Small businesses are a big area of focus too.
A major announcement in the speech was the finalisation of the local and regional economic development policy, mandate, funding criteria and guidelines which now focus on a supply delivery model.
This funding had proven its success with local companies such as Pro-Gloves and Kusasa Green now being able to compete at a national level and becoming trusted suppliers to retail giants such as Massmart.
He also said that R43 million had been allocated to SMME development, particularly youth enterprises, through the Eastern Cape Development Corporation.
Somyo said that the provincial SMME strategy had been reviewed and implementation was underway. The department is also to develop a strategy to develop the township economic sector.
One initiative to come out of this programme was the development of the provincial incubation fund. Fifty SMMEs from the province would take part in the Gazelle programme, run by the Department of the Small Business Development and Small Enterprise Development Agency.
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