Johannesburg: Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan says entrepreneurship is a key driver of job creation, and has called on the private sector – particularly the banking centre – to play a bigger role in funding small and medium enterprises.
Participating in a panel discussion at the Bloomberg “Africa: Economic Outlook and Opportunities” in Newtown on Monday, Gordhan said while the government has, as per the recent ANC election Manifesto, committed to create six million job opportunities over the next five years, the private sector had a role to play to realise this goal.
He said this after President Jacob Zuma, who opened proceedings earlier, announced that the African Union Commission had pledged to promote intra-trade investment between African states with a goal to develop the continent through infrastructure investment and industrialisation.
Gordhan said a “synergy” between the government and the private sector needed to be improved in order to achieve a common goal.
“From the state’s side … we are undertaking to create six million job opportunities over the next five years. That will require the private sector and enterprises to create one jobs on the one hand. Secondly there is a lot of good work that is being done between government and the private sector to get the training and apprenticeship system going,” he said.
Also participating in the panel discussion was, amongst others, First Rand Limited CEO Sizwe Nxasana and ArcelorMittal SA outgoing Chief Executive Nonkululeko Nyembezi-Heita.
Nxasana said for small and medium enterprises to work, they needed to get support through funding as they were a big job driver of the SA economy.
Gordhan agreed. “It is good to have banks say that we need to do more in this area because it is certainly the area, in the rest of the world, where both the government and the banking sector haven’t done anything.
“So let’s be quite frank about that. And more needs to be done to take a little bit more effort in order to support small businesses and give them the opportunity.”
Gordhan said, meanwhile, that the state has been doing a lot of growth planning in the past 18 months in areas of infrastructure investment, which has been identified in the National Development Plan (NDP) as a key area that can transform the country’s economy to create jobs.
He said this planning will soon start to bear fruit through employment opportunities.
“But the key is still to look for a working synergy between the private sector and government and get it right in South Africa because the private sector has an important role to play in our economy.