(FM) -KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala will lead a provincial government engagement with international diplomats and investors in Gauteng to reassure them that the province is ready for business and to showcase the KZN Investment Book.
The meeting follows the recent civil unrest and looting in KwaZulu-Natal, which threatened to bring the province’s economy to a halt.
The information provided indicates that the unrest resulted in destruction across every sector of the provincial economy. Malls, shopping centres, hospitals, schools, warehouses, factories, banks, liquor outlets, delivery trucks and communication infrastructure, were among the destroyed infrastructure.
Zikalala said the shutting down of key arterial routes from the ports of Durban and Richards Bay had a devastating impact, not only to the provincial economy but disrupted the country’s supply chain logistics.
“At a social level the unrest threatened progress made since the end of apartheid in fostering unity non-racialism, non-sexism and a prosperous South Africa. Thousands of jobs and food security were placed at risk and jeopardised social cohesion and moral regeneration,” Zikalala said.
According to the KZN Agricultural Union (KWANALU) estimates, the unrest demolished 55% economic activity in rural towns, with at least 64% of rural towns experienced severe food shortages.
During the two-day meeting, which starts on Thursday, the Premier will assured the diplomatic corps and international investors that the security situation in KZN has been stabilised and the province is now ready and open for business.
The Premier said the key to the message is that beyond the initial period of consolidating safety and security, raising destroyed infrastructure and returning to normality, KZN is resetting the economy towards greater inclusivity and co-ownership.
“We will build a solid skills base and employment. The medium to long-term response will focus on reassuring, rebuilding and ensuring that KZN is rising and uniting at the same time.
“Our view is that in post-conflict situations, employment is a major factor in achieving short-term stability, socio-economic progress and sustainable peace,” Zikalala said.
Economic Recovery and Transformation Plan
Zikalala added that KwaZulu-Natal’s Economic Recovery and Transformation Plan includes the acceleration of catalytic projects to drive economic growth and employment creation.
“In this regard the province has disaggregated the economy into 15 critical sectors which will revive exports and investment growth. These will re-ignite the KZN investment landscape through the 200 projects in the KZN Investment Book,” the Premier said.
The critical sectors include agriculture and agro-processing; clothing and textiles; creative industries; finance and services; Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and innovation; health innovation and manufacturing; industrial development; informal sector; and infrastructure development (Water, Energy and Sanitation).
The sectors also include investment and trade; manufacturing (Automotive, paper and pulp); mining and mineral beneficiation; oceans economy; tourism; and transport and logistics (Rail, Road and Air)
“The economic interventions will further include the detailing of relief funding for companies impacted by the unrest and explaining the solid measures put in place for early detection of conflict in order to prevent it from happening, and sending a unified message to reassure investors of stability,” the Premier said.
The provincial delegation includes MECs for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs Ravi Pillay; Health Nomagugu Simelane; Agriculture and Rural Development Bongiwe Sithole-Moloi; Transport, Community Safety and Liaison Neliswa Peggy Nkonyeni; Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Sipho Hlomuka; and Education Kwazi Mshengu.
Thursday will be marked by various strategic engagements culminating in a dinner co-hosted with the diplomatic corps in Pretoria.
International delegates are from the Republic of South Korea, the United Kingdom, Mauritius, Australia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Singapore, Denmark, Turkey, Egypt, Brazil, Netherlands, and the Federal Republic of Germany.