Job creation, sustainable livelihoods top E Cape agenda

Pretoria: Eastern Cape Premier Phumulo Masualle says the province will focus on creating jobs and sustainable livelihoods in 2015.

The province has set a target to create 129 597 Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) job opportunities and 37 000 through the Community Works Programme.

“We have to do this against an economic outlook characterised by… an economy that records one of the highest unemployment rates in the country… We are rising to the task of creating sustainable jobs for our people,” he said during the State of the Province Address (SOPA) in Bisho on Friday.

The unemployment rate in the province currently stands at 30.8%, while youth unemployment stands at 50%.

Premier Masualle said a total of 24 737 jobs, against a target of 13 234, have been created through economic agencies such as the Eastern Cape Development Corporation (ECDC), East London Industrial Development Zone (ELIDZ), and the Coega Development Corporation (CDC).

The province is targeting 14 investments with the value of R2.237 billion in the two IDZs.

“As part of promoting the province as an investment destination of choice, we are developing an Investment Promotion Strategy aimed at creating an enabling environment for a vibrant economic growth in the province,” said the Premier.

In the 2015/16 financial year, the ECDC is expected to create 7 000 jobs opportunities, Coega 8 797 and ELIDZ 5 500.

Premier Masualle said in the coming year, jobs will be created in manufacturing, logistics, alternative energy, agro processing and services.

“In an effort to further enhance job creation, we will support 280 SMMEs and 70 cooperatives,” he said.

This will ensure active participation of previously disadvantaged sectors in the economy.

The province has in the past, through the Community Works Programme, created a total of 35 222 work opportunities. Similarly, through the EPWP, a total of 155 235 job opportunities were created against the planned 92 521.

Approximately 64% of the EPWP jobs benefited women, 39% benefited the youth and 1% benefited persons with disabilities. A total of 4 184 youths, out of a target of 3 678, have been trained through the Accelerated Professional and Trade Competency Development Programme and the National Rural Youth Service Corps.

Western Cape outlines 2015 plans

Meanwhile, Western Cape Premier Helen Zille also delivered the SOPA today.

She said the provincial government will invest nearly R90 million in the development of the Saldanha Industrial Development Zone in cooperation with national government.

“Currently, the oil and gas sector accounts for 35 000 formal jobs in the province. Looking at similar initiatives elsewhere in the world, we estimate that we could more than double this number by 2019 under a high growth scenario where the Saldanha IDZ becomes the key logistics hub of Africa for the Oil and Gas Services Industry,” she said.

However, to achieve this, two major challenges need to be overcome, including the Saldanha Bay IDZ requiring additional infrastructure to undertake rig repair at shore.

“Secondly, we lack the skills that the oil and gas sector requires. Currently, there are 1 700 artisans employed at the port and we will need 18 000 by 2019 to support accelerated growth in this sector,” Premier Zille said.

She also welcomed national government’s recently launched Operation Phakisa, with the first phase of the project focused on unlocking the economic potential of South Africa’s oceans.