President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Thursday that government’s focus on reigniting economic growth is already paying off, and will lead to the creation of 275,000 additional direct jobs every year.
Ramaphosa was speaking during the State of the Nation Address (SONA) in Cape Town, where he told the nation that concerns about policy uncertainty had been addressed.
This was Ramaphosa’s second State of the Nation Address after the removal of former president Jacob Zuma.
Among those in attendance of the #SONA2019 were former presidents Thabo Mbeki and Kgalema Motlanthe, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, former Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr Frene Ginwala and Deputy President David Mabuza.
“We have worked together – as government, labour, business, civil society and communities – to remove the constraints to inclusive growth and to pursue far greater levels of investment,” said Ramaphosa.
“We held a successful Presidential Jobs Summit that agreed on far-reaching measures that – when fully implemented – will nearly double the number of jobs being created in our economy each year.”
Ramaphosa said the inaugural South Africa Investment Conference in October last year has provided a great impetus on his administration’s drive to raise R1.2 trillion in investment over the next five years.
He said official data showed that just in the first three quarters of 2018, there was an inflow of R70 billion.
“This is a phenomenal achievement compared to the low level of investment in the previous years,” said Ramaphosa.
“The Investment Conference attracted around R300 billion in investment pledges from South African and international companies. There was also a significant increase in foreign direct investment last year. In 2017, we recorded an inflow of foreign direct investment amounting to R17 billion.”
Ramaphosa also called on companies – big and small, to support the Youth Employment Service by placing the unemployed youth in paid internships.
“We call on all companies, both big and small, to participate in this initiative and thereby contribute not only to building their business but also to building the economy and fostering social cohesion,” he said.
Ramaphosa said government will also harness the potential of the Oceans Economy in order to grow the economy and create jobs.
“Since the Operation Phakisa on the Oceans Economy in 2014, we have secured investments of nearly R30 billion and created over 7,000 direct jobs. The investments have been mainly in infrastructure development, marine manufacturing, aquaculture, and the oil and gas sector,” he said.
“Expected investment in the Oceans Economy over the next five years is estimated at R3.8 billion by government and R65 billion by the private sector. These investments are expected to create over 100,000 direct jobs and more than 250,000 indirect jobs.”
Ramaphosa said in order to avert crisis at Eskom, the state-owned enterprise will immediately embark on a process of establishing three separate entities – Generation, Transmission and Distribution – under Eskom Holdings.
“This will ensure that we isolate cost and give responsibility to each appropriate entity,” said Ramaphosa.
“This will also enable Eskom to be able to raise funding for its various operations much easily from funders and the market.”
Infrastructure and job creation
Ramaphosa said government will also focus on creating jobs and employment opportunities through expanding small business incubation programme.
“The incubation programme provides budding entrepreneurs with physical space, infrastructure and shared services, access to specialised knowledge, market linkages, training in the use of new technologies and access to finance,” said Ramaphosa.
“The incubation programme currently consists of a network of 51 technology business incubators, 10 enterprise supplier development incubators and 14 rapid youth incubators. As part of the expansion of this programme, township digital hubs will be established, initially in four provinces, with more to follow.
“We expect these hubs to provide most needed entrepreneurial service to small and medium enterprises in the rural areas and townships but more especially to young people who want to start their businesses.”