Northern Cape Premier places focus on jobs

Pretoria: Premier of the Northern Cape, Silvia Lucas, says the provincial government will focus on creating employment in the year 2015.

Delivering her State of the Province Address in Kimberly on Thursday, Premier Lucas said the provincial government will harness relations with both civil society and business to ensure that 18 000 more people have job opportunities.

She said 18 000 people found employment in the fourth quarter of 2014.

“The majority of these jobs were created in the agriculture and construction sectors. The value of agriculture to the economy of the Northern Cape is of great importance. It contributes its share in terms of employment creation.

“Unemployment remains stubbornly high, but the province presents a number of opportunities in skilled areas. Improved educational attainment is key to address the skills required by the province,” she said.

The Premier said the revitalisation of the agriculture and agro-processing value chain was critical for the province.

“We believe that the partnerships that we have already set in motion with the private sector and the mining houses will go a long way in contributing positively towards economic growth and job creation, as well as entrepreneurial opportunities in the province.

“This will go a long way in transforming our economy, and creating jobs in order to halve poverty and inequality by 2030,” Premier Lucas said, referring to the goals of the National Development Plan.

The Premier said the provincial government will continue to use all government avenues including the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) to create decent work opportunities.

“We are inspired to see the continued support of the private sector in job creation,” she said.

According to Premier Lucas, the recently launched zinc mine at Gamsberg near Aggenys in Namaqualand is expected to employ 1 500 people during the construction phase and a further 500 permanent jobs.

Education a priority

With regards to education, Premier Lucas said it remained a major priority for the province.

“We annually spend at least 65 percent of the Northern Cape’s budget on education and health. The Northern Cape government is intent on sustaining and improving the quality of education, which must reflect our developmental imperatives,” she said.

The provincial government will this year continue with water upgrades at 61 schools.