Minister Ebrahim Patel
Deputy Minister Gina
Ministers and Deputy Ministers
Directors-General and other Officials
Leaders of the different Agencies
Leaders of Business and Labour
Today, the DTIC team, led by Minister Patel, is presenting its first budget vote of the 6th administration as part of government’s collective effort to eradicate the scourge of poverty and unemployment faced by our people.
This budget vote takes place during a very difficult and challenging period. Our people continue to endure socio-economic hardships. The economy contracted by 3,2% in the first quarter. Youth unemployment rate rose to 55,2% with the overall unemployment rate rising to 27,6%. Masses of our people remain trapped in poverty. Criminals terrorise our communities. Women and children are the biggest victims of gender based violence.
In the midst of all these challenges we remain hopeful because we are reassured by the strong persuasion that we shall overcome because we are the resilient people of Nelson Mandela, OR Tambo, Kwame Nkrumah and many other giants of our continent. Indeed, we are the generation that shall re-affirm Africa’s rise from the ashes as we pursue our vision of the “Africa We Want”.
It feels great to have led a delegation to the 8th meeting of African Ministers of Trade in Ethiopia last month. It was again a humbling experience to be part of the delegation led by Minister Patel to the Assembly of Heads of State of the African Union held in Niamey, Niger last week to witness the historic moment of the official launch of the operational phase of the AfCFTA.
The launch of the AfCFTA in Kigali, Rwanda in March last year was a milestone that marked Africa’s commitment to the creation of an integrated and diversified market of approximately US$3.3 trillion with a projected population of 1,2 billion people. To date, 54 countries (with the exception of Eritrea) have signed the Agreement. All member states are required to submit their initial tariff offers by September 2019. The effective date of trade of the AfCFTA is July 2020.
Minister Patel, there is no doubt that the establishment of the AfCFTA can be a game-changer for the local economy, providing a massive market for SA goods and services.
South Africa is the largest contributor to intra-Africa trade, accounting for approximately 23% of intra-Africa trade in 2018 with a value of R515.5 billion up from R478.8 billion in 2017.
South Africa’s National Development Plan (NDP) 2030 and the Industrial Policy Action Plan (IPAP) (the country’s industrialisation plan) are fully aligned with the objectives of AfCFTA and the Aspirations of the African Union’s Agenda 2063.
The survival of our economy is dependent on the consolidation of strategic alliances.
We must be prepared to confront our challenges inspired by the words of our forebear, Pixley ka Isaka Seme who a hundred and thirteen years ago, standing distinctively in the hallowed chambers of the University of Columbia, boldly challenged Africa to a new way of thinking, the beginning of a new dawn when he said;
“Yes, the regeneration of Africa belongs to this new and powerful period! By this term regeneration I wish to be understood to mean the entrance into a new life, embracing the diverse phases of a higher, complex existence.”
We are now turning our focus to one of our strategic provinces. The Gauteng Province, which currently accounts for a third of the country’s GDP and ranks as Africa’s 6th largest economy has a huge potential to cement its position as South Africa’s principal economic driver by mounting the most comprehensive response to the social conflict in the country. In this regard, galvanised by the vision of the President, we will work together with our provinces to achieve our goals.
The creation of new cities in Gauteng is about the remaking of decaying industrial and historic towns such as Vereeniging, Vanderbijlpark, Nigel, Krugersdorp, and Bronkhorstspruit into smart and integrated spaces weaved into an urban conurbation called the Gauteng City-region. This is an objective we must achieve during this Administration.
Gauteng is already contributing significantly to intra-Africa trade and investment. There are more than 200 active FDI projects of Gauteng-based businesses in different regions of our continent. These projects sustain 45 000 jobs in our provincial economy and also create jobs in the destination countries.
We will support Gauteng on the following industries and sectors with huge employment potential:
o Automotive, capital equipment and rolling stock manufacturing;
o Agro-processing, Food and Beverages;
o Finance and Retail;
o Logistics and Warehousing; and
o Green Economy
The next province is KwaZulu-Natal. The province has a unique feature, as it shares its borders with three (3) neighbouring countries of Mozambique, Eswatini and Lesotho.
Our goal is to replicate the Maputo Development Corridor model which was jointly championed by the Governments of South Africa and the Republic of Mozambique. Since the beginning of its implementation in 1998 to date, the Maputo Development Corridor continues to attract more investment, stimulate two-way trade and create jobs for the benefit of the two countries. This project must benefit citizens of Manguzi and Magude on both sides of the border.
Government will focus on the strategic sectors of manufacturing, agriculture, oceans economy and other sectors to strategically position the province as a lead investment destination and make the province a trade gateway within the Southern African region and the rest of the continent.
The two Special Economic Zones of Richards Bay and Dube Trade Port are key catalysts for foreign direct investment. We are excited that in April the province hosted the first SEZs conference to examine the functioning of SEZs and identify the key interventions required to improve their operations.
We are also pleased to announce that the Richards Bay Industrial Development Zone (RBIDZ) in the province of KwaZulu-Natal will soon be paving the way for the construction of a R1, 3 billion Palm Oil Refinery which we strongly believe will benefit the communities of Richards Bay, Empangeni and UMhlathuze.
Our budget vote must help us respond to the real challenges faced by our people. We must reach out to men and women of Imizamo Yethu settlement who are confronted by poverty, unemployment and inequality. We must inspire the young people of Evaton to dare to dream. Communities of Vereeniging, Vanderbijlpark, Nigel, Krugersdorp, and Bronkhorstspruit must continue to believe in the prospects of a Gauteng City-region with job opportunities. The rural communities of KZN must believe they can transcend their challenges. We must continue to be a continent at work in order to achieve our solid objective; the Africa We Want. We dare not fail.
I thank you!