Cape Town: Western Cape Premier Helen Zille says the green economy will create thousands of jobs as foreign investors line up to set up shop or expand their operations in the province.
Delivering her State of the Province Address (SOPA) at the Western Cape Legislature in Cape Town, on Friday, Premier Zille identified the green economy as an alternative job driver in the province, and said the interest from foreign investors was likely to create jobs and contribute to alleviating poverty.
The Premier’s SOPA comes just over a week after President Jacob Zuma delivered his State of the Nation Address at the National Assembly – a stone’s throw away from the Western Cape Legislature.
Many of the country’s premiers have over the last few days began outlining the state of affairs in the various provinces, while others are expected to do so in the coming days.
Premier Zille said the green economy formed part of an overall R2 billion worth of foreign direct investment (FDI) that has sailed into the province over the past four years.
The premier said the province had started reaping the rewards of having made various interventions as the country pulled itself out of the global economic downturn.
“One of these areas is Atlantis, just outside Cape Town, which has been hit by high levels of poverty and unemployment for many years.
“New investors have moved into the area recently, while existing companies have expanded and begun leading in technology.
“The inflow of new investment is partly a result of the City of Cape Town and Western Cape government’s plan to make Atlantis the heart of green economy manufacturing in the province.
“Two years ago, the City of Cape Town proactively identified portions of land at competitive rates in Atlantis for manufacturers producing products and services related to the green economy,” Premier Zille said.
Part of these investments include, amongst others, the investment by the GRI Renewable Industries – a wind industrial division of international company Corporation Gestamp – which has plans to open a wind tower manufacturing facility in Atlantis this year.
Premier Zille said the company’s R333-million investment is expected to create about 200 direct local jobs.
She said another major investment in the area was the opening of a R350-million Hisense factory last June, which is projected to create over 1 000 local jobs over the next three years.
“The factory currently employs 450 people – 150 more than it initially projected. It has also already established itself as a leader in technology on the continent, manufacturing the first UHD TV in Africa,” she said.
Premier Zille said these, amongst other projects, would complement other sectors to create jobs.
Her announcement on the green economy comes after President Zuma announced the establishment of the National Green Fund last year, where R800 million was set aside to promote investment in the green and lower carbon economy.
President Zuma on Thursday said during the response to the debate on his State of the Nation Address that investment of over R400 million had been approved in job creating green economy projects in municipalities, other organs of state, community organisations and the private sector.
He said that the investment in the green economy was vital as the formal economy could not absorb all job seekers.
Expenditure on health
Premier Zille called on Western Cape citizens to maintain healthy lifestyles, and added that a 28% increase in the province’s population over the past 10 years was putting the health care system under immense pressure.
She said the provincial government had, in response to this, spent R2.7 billion on health infrastructure over the last four years, which resulted in the province delivering a number of medical facilities.
This, she said, included 17 clinics, 12 ambulance stations or disaster management centres, 8 district hospitals including Khayelitsha and Mitchell’s Plain hospitals, 13 regional and specialised hospital projects, 21 central hospital projects, five pathology labs and the Western Cape Nursing College.
Substance abuse interventions
Premier Zille said substance abuse was a problem in the province, and said that on top of increasing the burden of disease in the province, it compromised education outcomes, destroyed families and fuelled violent crime — all of which threaten economic growth and job creation.
“That is why as soon as we assumed office five years ago, we identified the critical need for a comprehensive strategy to combat substance abuse in the province. We launched this plan a year later and have been systematically implementing it ever since,” she said.
She said some of these interventions included:
Increasing expenditure from R42 million in 2009 to R87 million this year;
Mainstreaming substance abuse education in the Life Orientation teaching material in schools;
Substantially increasing drug rehabilitation centres from eight in 2009 to 28 in 2014, and;
Introducing early intervention and short-term counselling programmes at Social Development offices in Athlone, Gugulethu, Wynberg and Mitchell’s Plain.
Housing opportunities created
Premier Zille said 93% of the human settlements budget in the province was spent on housing programmes aimed at people earning less than R3 500 per month.
“We have also focused on delivering a range of housing opportunities in a way that is most fair considering our limited resources and the increasing demand of a rapidly growing population in the province. It is important to remind ourselves that this province grew, demographically, by almost 46% over 17 years, and most of the new residents are desperately poor.
“Since 2009, we have delivered 119 674 housing opportunities [and] over 16 programmes, creating 37 130 jobs and using the services of around 147 broad-based BEE contractors.”