"The birth of democracy saw a shift in approach and government has now placed the issue of rural development high on its developmental agenda.”
PREMIER Sylvia Lucas, speaking at the inauguration of the Kathu Solar Plant, said that renewable energy is the future and this sector has the potential to assist government to radically transform the economy.
“I have to applaud Engie which is leading the consortium of investors for this major project. This says to us that you have heeded the call of government that collectively, we need to do everything in our power to enhance development and in so doing empower our communities and especially our youth to build a sustainable livelihood,” said Lucas at Friday’s inauguration.
She added that the people of the Northern Cape, from a variety of sectors such as government, private, NGOs and labour are in agreement about the need for an inclusive energy sector and for a partnership to deal with the triple challenge of unemployment, poverty and inequality whilst accelerating rapid economic transformation in the Province.
“This Province has developed a National Development Plan (NDP). South Africa can realise these goals by drawing on the energies of its people, growing an inclusive economy, building capabilities, enhancing the capacity of the state, and promoting leadership and partnerships throughout society.”
Lucas said that the National Development Plan (NDP) provides better opportunities for rural provinces like the Northern Cape to fully participate in the economic, social and political life of the country.
“Our history is characterised by, among others, deliberate neglect of rural areas. The birth of democracy saw a shift in approach and government has now placed the issue of rural development high on its developmental agenda.”
She said that, as per the NDP directive, a 20-year plan has been developed for the Northern Cape to identify high-impact activities and interventions to change the life chances of the Province’s people, especially the youth, which have been stunted by the apartheid legacy.
“This long-term plan will enable us to realise growth and development in the Northern Cape. As you are aware, growth and development requires a long-term perspective; the Provincial Growth and Development Plan – Vision 2040 and the Provincial Spatial Development Framework provides such a trajectory.
“The Provincial Growth and Development Plan (PGDP – Vision 2040) and the Provincial Spatial Development Framework (PSDF) will also provide a developmental agenda based on four paths of prosperity, namely economic, social, environmental and governance. These paths are founded within an ethos of sustainable development.”
Lucas further stated that the Northern Cape is a regional solar hub of energy in southern Africa. “A social pact is therefore required to create a prosperous energy sector in the Province through a negotiated resolution where the private sector commits to investing in new areas; where labour and business work together with government to address the inhibiting factors and identifying opportunities; and developing partnerships with civil society to ensure that our people benefit from the natural resources of our beautiful Province.”
She added that government remains committed to setting the country on a path of radical economic transformation in order to accelerate its onslaught on socio-economic challenges.
“This has been our consistent theme throughout our economic blueprint, the National Development Plan, and that is the urgent need to focus on decisive action to grow the economy and create employment. This cannot be done by government alone and therefore we need to mobilise our partners in the private sector to join hands with us in pursuit of this goal.
“The green economy has much to offer in terms of job creation, infrastructure development and general economic development.”
Lucas said that in order to ensure a more clean and secure energy future for the Province and country, renewable energy, and in the Northern Cape solar energy specifically, plays a crucial role.
“It is heartening to know that this project will supply clean electricity to South Africa’s power utility, Eskom, and will produce enough electricity to power approximately 179 000 homes.”