The 1994 Democratic breakthrough presented an opportunity for the democratic state to intervene for the benefit for the majority of our people in the economy in order to create a better life for all. This was premised on the understanding that the state must create a conducive environment for investment and economic growth. This posture is informed by our consciousness to ameliorate the plight of poor South Africans and address the triple challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality. We are not oblivious to the challenges that we have faced and will continue to face due to a number of factors some of which are exogenous in nature like the current exchange rate and crude oil prices which have a bearing on the cost of living and a higher cost of borrowing for the state. Internal factors include, but are not limited to, the debt levels and poor corporate governance at our state owned enterprises like ESKOM.
THE NORTHERN CAPE ECONOMY
STATS SA last week released data which showed that the Northern Cape, in 2017, showed the strongest economic growth indicating that there are green shoots in our economy that must be nurtured and sustained. In the fourth quarter of 2018, the Northern Cape recorded a 2% decline in unemployment from 27% to 25%. In real terms this meant that an additional 13 000 jobs were created in the provincial economy bringing the unemployment figure down from 120 000 people to 107 000 in the fourth quarter.
The Northern Cape has shown a steady decline in the unemployment figures over the last 3 years from 35% in the third quarter of 2015 to 25% in the fourth Quarter of 2018. This is the lowest unemployment rate achieved since the fourth quarter of 2013.
Our Provincial Economy contributed R96 billion to the South African Economy in 2017, which translates to 2.1% of South Africa’s GDP. The mining sector contributed the lion’s share of R19 Billion in comparison to other sectors, followed by Government Services at R15 Billion and Agriculture at R6.8 Billion. The least contributing sectors were construction and manufacturing with R2.9 Billion respectively. The fact that government services are the second largest contributor to our economy, should be cause for concern, given the huge mineral resources and mining potential we have as the mining capital of South Africa.
GROW SOUTH AFRICA
In order to ensure sustainable and economic growth for all, the ANC will prioritise the development of a highly skilled population in the province in order to find solutions to our challenges using technology taking advantage of the fourth industrial revolution. Access to quality public education is therefore no longer a matter for negotiation. We need a social compact between parents, educators, learners and society to ensure optimal utilization of learning and teaching. We must develop skills that can contribute to the growth of South Africa as well as the growth of the Northern Cape. We need to set higher standards for our human development Index as a Province.
This Skills Revolution should also translate into higher education institutions in the Province being able to respond to our economic needs like data science to dovetail the Square Kilometer Array Project, Mining and Agriculture including extensive research in order to become the bread basket of our country. The Establishment of Solar Parks in the Province must also feature in the curriculum design of these institutions.
The quest to establish the Northern Cape as the Solar Capital of the world and the known vast mineral deposits lying in the belly of our Province should prompt us to explore the possibility of establishing an energy/mineral complex economy with strong local ownership by the people of our Province where profits and dividends are declared in our province. This would assist in advancing our mantra of creating an ‘economy for all’.
We must also explore and infuse strong elements of localization in terms of ownership, management and operations of these entities. These entities must also be geared towards allowing new entrants into the economy and dislodging monopolies and anti-competitive conduct. The freedom charter enjoins all of us to share in the country’s wealth and the mineral wealth beneath the soil. As already provided for in the Mining, Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA), this means we must all work together to create a better life for all. Let’s grow South Africa Together.