Township economy under the spotlight at National Council of Provinces debate.
THE NORTHERN Cape MEC for Finance, Economic Development and Tourism, Abraham Vosloo, announced plans to reconstruct the economy during the National Council of Provinces debate on revitalising the township economy.
Vosloo stated that thousands of people were losing their jobs at a time when business confidence and manufacturing production were at an all-time low.
“Many of our informal enterprises were unable to operate at all during the national lockdown. The impact plunged small and medium enterprises into a state of economic disaster, more especially small operators across our townships who are the key drivers of township economies.”
Vosloo pointed out that many local enterprises are community-based, and these include, among others, street vendors, taverns, minibus taxis, spaza shops, burial societies, stokvels, hair salons, plumbers, panel-beaters and home-based care, including basic commodities such as cooking, shopping, child-minding and taking care of the sick and the aged.
“As part of our measures to resuscitate our local economies, a complex process of converting land into residential, commercial or industrial properties is being explored by all relevant stakeholders, inclusive of various specialists and professionals,” said Vosloo.
“The professionals bring their expertise to the table to ensure that safety, sustainability, socio-economic and environmental aspects are taken into account and development is done in compliance with the relevant regulations.”
He pointed out that economic activity in townships was often small and undiversified. “Economic activity in many townships is generally limited to retail, trade, transportation and government services.
“Township revitalisation needs to be seen in the context of the government’s overarching mandate to reduce poverty and accelerate broad-based black economic empowerment.”
Vosloo stated that the informal economy required intensive skills development, entrepreneurship and broader access to markets.
“Three sector-specific incubator business plans in the renewable energy, agriculture and tourism sectors have been completed and submitted for standard bidding in the enterprise incubator programme.
“The Centre for Entrepreneurship and Rapid Incubation has been established in Upington and the service has been extended to include Sol Plaatje University.
“The Transnet Emthanjeni Enterprise Hub has also been established in De Aar and the Kimberley Diamond and Jewellery Incubator has been established and the SMME Village Incubator has also been established in Sol Plaatje.”
Vosloo added that as part of the economic recovery package, the Northern Cape provincial government had prioritised funding initiatives for SMMEs.
“The township and rural entrepreneurship programme is being implemented in all our five districts across the Province, which will assist enterprises in townships and rural areas to access funding.
“Marketing material is being distributed to district municipalities for qualifying enterprises
“Workshops and continued back-up support for start-ups and free wi-fi hot-spots in township areas will be rolled out throughout the Province.”