Progress has been made in Operation Vulindlela

Eleven reforms have been completed, while a further 14 are on track or progressing well.

The frustrations caused by intermittent power are understandable and government is diligently working to ease the power crunch.

Amid the gloom, there have been rays of hope and the recent Quarterly Labour Force Survey by Statistics South Africa shows a 0.4% increase in gross domestic product (GDP) in the first quarter of 2023. An additional 258 000 people were employed in the first quarter, bringing the number of employed people to 16.2 million.

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While these numbers are still far short of what we want, they show that interventions such as the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan and Operation Vulindlela are paying off.

Operation Vulindlela was launched in October 2020 as part of the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan, to fundamentally transform our economy. Through it, we have been implementing 35 priority structural reforms identified for their impact on economic growth and job creation.

Since its launch, we have made progress in the areas of energy, our logistics network, digital communications and the reform of the visa regime to enable businesses to attract the skills they need to grow.

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Eleven reforms have been completed, while a further 14 are on track or progressing well.

Sceptics may ask what has been achieved? This is a fair question.

We have amended Schedule 2 of the Electricity Regulation Act to remove the licensing requirement for generation projects of any size. More than 100 projects are at various stages of development, representing over 10 000 megawatts of new generation capacity and over R200 billion of private sector investment.

Additionally three projects from the risk mitigation programme have entered construction, with a further five projects expected to reach financial closure during this quarter.

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Project agreements have been signed for 25 preferred bidders from bid windows 5 and 6, amounting to approximately 2 800MW, of which 784MW is already in construction.

The Electricity Regulation Amendment Bill was approved by Cabinet in March and has been tabled in parliament. This Bill will establish a competitive electricity market, enabling multiple generators to compete on a level playing field.

While these interventions are not a silver bullet, they are essential to ramping up energy generation in the short and medium term.

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Another key focus area is the ports and rail network. This includes work to enable third-party access to the core rail network, as well as partnerships with private terminal operators at the Durban Pier 2 Container Terminal and Ngqura Container Terminal.

There are plans to increase the availability of locomotives and to address cable theft along the container corridor.

Fundamental changes to the work visa system are in the pipeline, such as a trusted employer scheme, which provides a simplified process for qualifying companies to obtain work visas for skilled personnel.

The visa reforms will streamline visa applications and a points-based system will apply to both the critical skills visa and the general work visa. This will provide additional pathways for applicants and introduce greater predictability, flexibility and transparency.

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Government is proud of the work that has been done to transform the economy through structural reforms, which are beginning to impact economic growth and job creation.

But, we need the help of all sectors of society to unlock growth, create jobs and ignite hope for a better tomorrow.

-Baloyi is chief director: media engagement Government Communication and Information System

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