Repurposing rundown industrial parks will be at the centre of growing township economies.
This according to Deputy President David Mabuza who said rundown industrial areas, many previously owned by former homelands, were in for an upgrade.
He was responding to questions during a sitting of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) on Wednesday.
Mabuza said special economic zones and industrial parks were pivotal to the government’s economic reconstruction plan.
The recovery plan comes amid the country’s economic decline which saw 2.2 million people losing their jobs in the second quarter as quarter-on-quarter GDP contracted by a record 16.4% while business confidence and manufacturing production plunged.
“These projects are geared to attract private sector investment and the plan entails the development of new special economic zones and the revitalisation of existing parks as well as sites that link small businesses to global economic value chains.
“To date, our special economic zones have attracted just over 230 private investors of which 127 are already operational.”
Mabuza said the combined value of these investments were approximately R17.2 billion.
“In the process, more than 15 000 direct jobs have been created. There are 12 industrial parks that are being revitalised in the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Free State, North West, Limpopo and Mpumalanga. Some of these industrial parks are strategically located near townships and rural development nodes and are integral to local economies of these areas.”
He added one of the key barriers to entry and participation in townships and rural areas was a lack of infrastructure.
“Government has prioritised the provision of infrastructure support that includes access to office space, connectivity and technology platforms that enhance innovation.
“Our land reform programme has also prioritised strategically located land to support townships and rural areas. Under-utilised properties and industrial sites will be repurposed and revitalised to serve businesses,” Mabuza said.
Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape are splashing money on special economic zones, green technology, and infrastructure projects to revive the economy.
In Gauteng, plans are being implemented to drive economic growth to benefit township businesses and small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs).
The provincial government has come up with a policy that allows all departments in Gauteng to procure from SMMEs.
There are also plans to rezone taxi ranks into retail and commercial hubs.
In KwaZulu-Natal, R97.9 million was approved by the provincial government for SMMEs which saved more than 4 000 jobs.
A further R18 million was disbursed to bakeries, paper manufacturers and businesses in the clothing and textile sector.
The Western Cape government launched a tourism product development fund which committed R5 million to support new or existing tourism products.