Makhura sets the Gauteng economy on an irreversible path to growth

Gauteng Premier David Makhura on Tuesday rolled back the years – invoking distinguished African scholar and writer Ben Okri, who in his book A Time For New Dreams, taught the world about learning from adversity and difficult times.

Makhura, who in 2018 also leaned on Okri’s teachings, revisited them this week in his State of the Province Address, which imbued a new sense of urgency for his administration as he laid out a plan to claw back the democratic gains and socioeconomic progress made in the pre-Covid-19 period.

“We are boldly shifting our main focus and energies to tackle unemployment through economic recovery and reconstruction. The economy has been devastated and the democratic gains in the quality of lives of the people have been substantially eroded,” he said.

The administration has made the economy and jobs its number one priority over the next two years.

Inside Gauteng’s economic and jobs growth blueprint:

  • Special Economic Zones (SEZs).

All stakeholders showed a stubborn resilience to the construction of the Tshwane Automotive SEZ amid the pandemic. Makhura said this demonstrates the administration’s sense of urgency and “the kind of emergency response required to deal with the economic challenges”.

There are 12 component manufacturers that are already operating in the Tshwane SEZ, while construction work is continuing. The SEZ has also created 3 440 permanent jobs, exceeding the target of 3 288 jobs.

“Thus far R1-billion has been spent through the construction phase on SMMEs from Mamelodi township… Hopefully we will soon witness the manufacturing of the new Ford Ranger at the Tshwane Automotive SEZ.”

The Vaal River SEZ saw R45-billion in commitments from local investors at the Sedibeng Investment Conference in October last year. It will host the new Vaal River Smart City, Green Hydrogen Innovation Hub, the cannabis hub, agro-logistics, aerotropolis and aerodrome.

Another SEZ showing green shoots is the OR Tambo SEZ.

“We are engaging our anchor tenants, such as the De Beers Diamonds and In2Food Factory, to consider expanding their portfolio of investment to create more job opportunities,” Makhura said.

A new development to report towards the realisation of the West Rand Agri-SEZ is the commitment by Maximum Group to invest R20-billion in an agri-processing hub and industrial park.

Work is continuing on the N12 Corridor with mining houses and other private sector partners to facilitate investments on solar farms, urban agriculture, green hydrogen as well as the expansion of the Busmark manufacturing facility.

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