REMARKS BY EC PREMIER AT PROFESSIONAL AND BUSINESS SESSION

Programme Director:

ANC PS and the entire Leadership

Business leadership and professional

Distinguish guests

Ladies and Gentlemen.

Good evening and thank you for gathering here today. Earlier today I was in Alfred Nzo DM to be precise for maize harvesting. We were invited by Qhamani Nande a Co-op led by a young person of 25 years, who ploughed over 700 hectors. It was indeed a special moment to observe that agriculture is attractive to young people, and they do it with passion.

Let me make a few comments on developmental issues that I deem appropriate for this gathering. As the ANC Provincial Chair and the Premier of the Eastern Cape I am deeply grateful for your unwavering commitment to developing the Eastern Cape and your continued support in ensuring our beloved province stands tall and prosperous. As the PEC we are inviting each of you to partner with the provincial government in our ambitious Strategic Integrated Infrastructure Plans (SIPs) for catalytic projects. These projects are not just bricks and mortar, they are the steppingstones towards a future brimming with socio-economic growth and development, particularly in the Gqeberha region.

Our vision extends beyond today or tomorrow. We are crafting a sustainable and prosperous future our people, our apex industries, and our grander economy. We are devoted to delivering an aggressive infrastructure development plan. This plan will facilitate job creation, increase our tax base, attract foreign direct investment, and address the backlog in service delivery that has held us back for far too long. I can say without fear of contradiction that during this term of government we lifted the bar of infrastructure development in our province.

We are relentlessly pursuing six Mega Infrastructure Projects. These include the N2 Wild Coast Highway, the Mzimvubu Water Project, the Eastern Cape Transnet initiatives, N2 Nodal Development, Undersea cables, and the Wild Coast SEZ. Our resolve is steadfast; and we are moving at incredible speed. Our roads arteries are pumping life into our province by connecting people to social services and economic centres. SANRAL undertook major roads network construction here in Nelson Mandela Metro in the recent past, and continues to create worldclass road infrastructure fit for a Metro.

As I stand before you, the work of transforming the Wild Coast corridor with the N2 Wild Coast Project is advancing. The construction of the Msikaba Bridge is progressing well with pylons rising above the river gorge. Work on Mthentu Bridge has commenced. These two mega bridges are a monumental stride towards redefining the economic landscape for the entire Pondoland region.

Our projects, especially the construction and maintenance of the N2 Wild Coast Highway, are not just physical infrastructures but symbolic links connecting our province’s hearts and minds. These developments are crucial to enhancing connectivity, fostering economic development, and generating employment, particularly for our unemployed youth.

This region is the biggest beneficiary of Transnet initiatives which also seek to invigorate the Eastern Cape’s economy, focusing on upgrading our rail and port infrastructure. Last year Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) unveiled plans to invest R9-billion in infrastructure projects at the ports of East London, Port Elizabeth and Ngqura over a seven-year period. Such investments come with opportunities for local businesspeople. I have been asking Transnet about their plans for the transportation of manganese to the Port of Ngqura which is currently transported by trucks from the Northen Cape. The plan to reopen the line from Kroonstad to the Port of East London signifies our commitment to improving logistics in our province. Upon completing the 1200 Ton Slipway Project at Port Elizabeth, we can further boost our trade capacity and generate additional jobs. We must feel the impact of having TNPA headquarters here in Gqeberha.

We understand the urgency and importance of ensuring that essential utilities, such as water and sanitation, are delivered effectively. Here in Gqeberha we are doing all in our power to ensure water security for our communities and industrial purposes. There are a number of water related initiatives such as desalination plant currently planned in the Metro. We invite you to participate in these transformative projects as partners, collaborators, and visionaries.

For this financial year our province has been allocated R6.33 billion through various grants for water related projects. Nelson Mandela Metro which has been affected by severe drought over the past 8 years is receiving more than R960 million for water projects for this financial year. I must say that the implementation of water projects in this Metro has been affected by political instability in the Municipality. That has delayed progress on development in this Metro. I can tell you now such instability has also indirectly chased away potential investors for this Metro. As Professionals and Businesspeople of the Metro it is your responsibility to work for a stable business environment in this Metro. As organised stakeholders in the Metro you must voice your opinions when the Metro Council is not doing what is right.

Talking about mega water projects, I want to highlight that as citizens of the Eastern Cape we are going to be left behind in development if we are not speaking with one voice and if we do not share the same vision about this province.

I feel we are the only province where development projects are delayed due to lack of funding or due to environmental impact assessment disputes. As I am speaking with you, KZN will be implementing a R26 billion uMkhomazi Water Project because affordability deadlock has been resolved. Limpopo Province in partnership with mines, is implementing the R24 billion Olifants River Water project. Northen Cape will resume construction of the R10 billion Vaal Gamagara water project in partnership with mines. I can bet my last cent these projects were conceptualised recently but look at the fight we had to put up for Umzimvubu Water Project which was recently funded for R8 billion.

At times we shoot ourselves in the foot, by contradicting each other on developmental projects. Look at what we did as stakeholders in this province when Shell said they want to explore oil and gas in our ocean. Look at what we did when explorers wanted to check for shale gas in the karoo. Look at what happened to the potential Xholobeni Titanium mining project. Where is our collective voice on Tyspunt Nuclear Power stations when the country is in dire need of such a project? The growth of our provincial economy has been held back by the energy crisis, even though we managed to reduce unemployment from 47.9 % in 2020 to 40.0% by the end of Q1 of 2023. Our province can provide sustainable answers to the energy needs of our people and industries if we were to pursue collectively an ambitious programme for energy generation in the province.

The point I am driving home is that government is not solely to blame for underdevelopment in this province. Yes, we make own goals such as poor implementation of infrastructure projects, particularly at local government level, but the people of the province and stakeholders such as businesspeople and academics are equally to blame for delayed progress on development in our province. There is accountability and there is self-hate that is rife in our province. A good example of what I am talking about is the commentary raised by citizens of our province around the landing of the UAE President at Bulembu Airport. Most people did not even know that we have a Bulembu Airport, but they made the most ridiculous comments about that visit by the UAE President. The day we all embrace development and speak with one voice on development will be the day the Eastern Cape develops to the level of Gauteng and Western Cape so that our people can find real greener pastures inside our province.

I am disappointed by the slow pace of creating a worldclass waterfront in this Metro because it could tilt the tourism landscape of the country in favour of our province. Currently Durban and Cape Town have the most attractive water fronts in the country attracting a lot of international tourists. I challenge the leadership of the Metro and stakeholders to get their act together because we are being left behind by other cities. I am appealing for us to join forces, pool our resources, our expertise, and our determination to create an Eastern Cape that is prosperous, sustainable, and resilient.

Our collaborative efforts must focus on creating an environment that nurtures growth and encourages the participation of all our citizens. To this end, we propose a series of strategic interventions. Firstly, we recognise the immense potential of cannabis production, a growing industry with immense economic promise. We invite the private sector to invest in this initiative, helping us create a robust value chain that integrates small-scale farmers, industry, and exporters and contributes significantly to our economy.

We are committed to building a robust Black Industrialist Development Programme. We envisage creating a thriving, diverse industrial base where black entrepreneurs have the same access and opportunities as their counterparts. The private sector’s expertise, mentorship, and financial support are critical in cultivating an environment where our black industrialists can flourish.

Our youth are the province’s future, and investing in their skills development is non-negotiable. We propose the creation of comprehensive youth programs to enhance their technical and entrepreneurial skills. We invite corporations to partner with us in this endeavour, offering internships and apprenticeships that prepare our youth for the job market and entrepreneurship.

Women’s empowerment remains a priority for us. We are implementing various initiatives aimed at increasing women’s participation in all sectors of our economy. We seek partnerships with businesses that share this vision to help us create opportunities for women and promote their economic independence. We know the hurdles our small, medium, and micro-sized enterprises (SMMEs) face. Addressing these barriers to economic growth is high on our agenda. We aim to simplify regulatory procedures, increase access to finance, and provide complete business support services. Our vision is to create a vibrant SMME sector, and we urge the private sector to join us in this mission.

Green , Blue , creative arts and sport remain our niche

As a government, we are committed to meeting our obligations to our creditors within 30 days. We will improve our internal processes to ensure this, enhancing our credibility and fostering a conducive business environment.

Today I wish to propose several actions to realise our goals:

We must implement a programme to enhance project-related skills, focusing on project management and engineering skills within the State.

We must align national, provincial, and local structures to ensure seamless coordination and efficiency.

We must align our investment plan with funding allocation for efficient resource utilisation.

We must provide long-term support for strategic projects, especially those with regional impact.

We must standardise designs and delivery to improve efficiency and reduce costs.

We must recover total life-cycle costs through user tariffs or committed funding strategies to ensure financial sustainability.

We must strengthen project controls and monitoring in government and State-owned Enterprises.

We must create an early warning system to address bottlenecks promptly.

We must foster a new compact with the private sector based on mutual respect and shared goals.

In conclusion, we urge our private sector partners to join us in this journey towards a prosperous Eastern Cape. Our people are our most significant asset, and together, we can create a vibrant economy that benefits all our citizens. Let’s change our attitude of self hate as people of our province

Tomorrow in this metro we are hosting a human settlement summit where we will engage sector players on the progress, we have made to provide our people with shelter. That is another arena where businesses can thrive and support government initiatives of creating jobs.

Thank you for your attention, and we look forward to forging strong partnerships for the betterment of our beloved province.

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