September 21, 2017

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Industrial parks expected to revitalise rural economies

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Accelerating economic development . . . Trade and Industry minister Rob Davies

Accelerating economic development . . . Trade and Industry minister Rob Davies

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) says the revitalisation of the industrial park in Botshabelo and other centres around the country is expected to help invigorate township and rural economies and promote inclusive growth.

Trade and Industry minister Rob Davies told parliament in his budget vote speech on Tuesday that black communities remained plagued by low economic activities resulting in high unemployment and increasing poverty.

He said government had found it important to support emerging businesses in the townships so that people could improve their lives and become self sustainable.

“Accelerating economic development in the townships and rural areas is critical in addressing unemployment, poverty and promoting inclusive growth,” said Davies.

“In this regard, the DTI prioritised the revitalisation of industrial parks, the first phase of which focuses on building appropriate infrastructure required to attract and retain investors. Thus far, six of the 10 targeted industrial parks have been revitalised at a cost of R278 million, including Seshego (Limpopo), Botshabelo (Free State), Isithebe (KwaZulu Natal), Babelegi (Gauteng), Vulindlela (Eastern Cape) and Komani (Eastern Cape),” he told parliament.

Davies noted given that most emerging businesses struggled to secure business premises to operate from, they believed that business people would take advantage of the programme and relocate their operations to the industrial parks as they are equipped with some of the best facilities at affordable rates.

“We are confident that the programme will attract more businesses to locate in the parks, thereby increasing the economic growth and employment of these economically depressed regions,” the minister added.

Davies has long held the view that the DTI’s contribution to the promotion of a higher level of more inclusive economic growth must involve intensifying the department’s efforts to promote radical economic transformation in “two inextricably linked dimensions.”

In a contribution to a Portfolio Committee meeting earlier this year, Davies suggested that the transformation should involve redoubling efforts to fundamentally change the colonially-defined structure of the country’s economy as a producer and exporter of primary commodities through industrialisation and moving up value chains.

He also wanted to see the intensifying of efforts to promote greater inclusion of historically disadvantaged black people in positions of ownership, management, leadership and control across the economy.

The minister also said government was on a drive to support industrial development with a particular emphasis on black industrialists.

Under the Black Industrialist Programme, which was launched in March last year, the government proposed that it would support 100 black industrialists over a three-year period ending March 2019. The department has however decided to accelerate the implementation of the programme and hopes to reach the target of 100 black industrialists by the end of March next year.
At least 46 projects run by black industrialists have been approved by different government agencies, including the DTI, Industrial Development Corporation, Public Investment Corporation, and the National Empowerment Fund. Collectively, the institutions have deployed over R2 billion in financial support on top of R122m in grants from the department.

“Our support has allowed these black industrialists to undertake investment projects of R3.7 billion and is projected to create more than 8 000 direct jobs and close to 12 000 indirect jobs,” said Davies.

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