Northern Cape Premier Dr Zamani Saul says investment in infrastructure development is vital if the province is to grow economically.

The Premier was delivering the State of the Province Address (SOPA) in Upington on Thursday.

“South Africa and the Northern Cape require local and foreign investment to grow the economy. The unique resource portfolio of the Northern Cape must be utilised to beneficiate our raw material. What industry consumes must be manufactured locally.

“Thus, we need to provide industrial centres of excellence with world class infrastructure. As the Northern Cape, we are in the process of initiating a Western SADC [Southern African Development Community] Export and Manufacturing Corridor to connect Namibia, Botswana and several South African provinces,” he said.

The corridor, Saul said, would consist of the:

Kathu Industrial Park at the centre of the Gamagara Mining Corridor.

Upington Industrial Park as a services centre for road, rail and air transport, agriculture, agro-processing and manufacturing.

Namakwa SEZ in Aggeneys, an industrial cluster for mining and agriculture services, beneficiation and manufacturing.

“All of these projects are at an advanced stage. We are especially excited for the prospects of the SASOL hydrogen pre-feasibility study outcome, the Boegoebaai Harbour nearing final planning stages, Namakwa SEZ designation, Upington Industrial Park construction and Kathu Industrial Park business plan. Each of these investments are game changers for the Northern Cape, South Africa and SADC.

“To underpin these investments, province-wide infrastructure and investment is required and thus we are working in partnership with the Presidency to realise these infrastructure investment opportunities,” the Premier said.

State-owned construction company

At the SOPA, Saul announced that the Northern Cape State-owned construction company – initially announced in 2019 – is expected to be launched at the end of June this year.

“COEGA, which is a State-owned public entity, was appointed in March 2020, after a competitive supply chain management bidding process, to conduct the feasibility studies on the state construction company and mining company.

“The Executive Council approved a plan to implement the findings of the study. We are in the process of registering the Northern Cape State Owned Construction Company. We hope to launch the company before the end of June this year and the MEC of Finance, Economic Development and Tourism will elaborate on this and indicate the funding for the company for the 2022/23 Financial Year,” he said.

The company – in collaboration with the provincial Department of Roads and Public Works (DRPW) – is expected to:

Build RDP houses for human settlements, roads and other infrastructure.

Train and upskill people, with a special focus on unemployed youth.

Absorb young people who have been trained.

Serve as a training institution for mass production of artisans.

Implement 30% of the provincial government’s infrastructure project.

Serve as an incubator for small businesses in the Northern Cape Province.

Furthermore, the Premier said the department will be undergoing changes to add expertise.

“The objective of the remodelling [of the department] includes the centralisation of all the provincial infrastructure for obvious synergistic benefits. A core element of the remodelling will be to ensure that DRPW as a department has adequate in-house technical/engineering capacity and expertise around the areas of infrastructure planning, design and implementation,” he said.

Unemployment

The Premier said the province’s youth unemployment rate, which stands at about 37% is “an indictment on us all”.

Saul said interventions are underway to creating more youth employment opportunities through:

Industrialisation, which includes the implementation of catalytic projects.

Skills development, which will be done in partnership with institutes of higher learning (FET colleges, universities) and SITAs to provide training and skills to unemployed youth, and

Enterprise development focusing on township economy.

In addition, government will be creating descent and sustainable jobs by beginning a process of insourcing security guards in the province’s departments.

“[When] the sixth administration took up office, it indicated key priorities that will assist towards the enhancement of provincial developmental path in order to achieve a modern, growing and successful province.

“This required the state to enhance its capacity with the objective of creating decent and sustainable jobs. In order to achieve this, support functions such as security, cleaning, gardening and catering that are currently outsourced by government were highlighted as some of the functions the province should consider for insourcing.”

The Premier said that the phased-in insourcing of security services will commence in April 2022.

This will commence with small departments and be phased-in in the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) period.

“This is all due to the fact that the province does not have adequate resources to insource the more than 2000 security guards at once. Security personnel that will be on the pay roll of the provincial government will be housed and managed from the Department of Transport, Safety and Liaison,” he said.

Source: South African Government News Agency

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