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Matlosana as a competitive investment destination

By Maetu Kgaile | China Daily Africa | Updated: 2017-10-15 10:56

South Africa's Statistician-General Pali Lehohla in September released a report entitled "Whither the Demographic Dividend". In his preface, he says: "Decisions we take in the course of political office often have effects, impacts and consequences long after we leave office - the 'construction sites' which require solid foundations, strong walls and impermeable roofs."

It is therefore of great concern that in the recently released statistics by Statistics SA on poverty and inequality in South Africa, the North West province remains among the most affected. Between 2001 and 2016, the province ranked between No 4 and No 7 in terms of levels of equality and development.

The leadership of the province has decided to act decisively to change this situation. We cannot continue to lament weak economic growth, lack of jobs, poor levels of education or the fact that our young people are becoming increasingly restless due to the lack of opportunities.

We have looked at our competitive advantages to put together a plan for development, job creation and investment. Our competitive offerings to domestic and international investors include our easy access to Gauteng, as well as regional markets of Botswana and Namiba. As a province, we also contribute 5.7 percent of national outputs to key economic sectors including mining, agriculture and manufacturing.

Yet at the same time, we cannot ignore the deep levels of poverty and inequality in the province, including the fact that 65 percent of it is rural with a low economic base.

Matlosana as a competitive investment destination

Our citizens are emphatic in expressing their dissatisfaction with the current state of affairs in the province through actions including increasingly frequent and violent service delivery protests.

We in the City of Matlosana, the largest city in the province, have assembled a team to put together bankable projects which can attract domestic and international investment. Through this we are confident we will be able to elevate the levels of development in the province while creating jobs which will directly impact on the socio-economic conditions of our people.

These projects was presented at the inaugural Matlosana Trade and Investment Conference from Oct 11 to 13 at the Rio Hotel Casino and Convention Resort Klerksdorp, North West province.

In looking to revitalize our socioeconomic levels, and as we collectively grapple with the as-yet-unknown impact of the fourth industrial revolution which will mean more mechanization, we must begin to look at economic development through a much broader lens.

We are therefore looking to position the province differently in the areas of manufacturing and mining, infrastructure, green economy, agriculture and agro-processing, tourism, and transport infrastructure development opportunities.

With this forward-looking lens in mind, we have made available land to develop an industrial park which aims to become a hub offering affordable industrial space for small and medium-sized enterprises. In addition to traditional areas of economic activity, including mining and manufacturing, we would like to see the park host companies who are able to contribute to metal beneficiation (ferrous and non-ferrous metals), agro-processing and solar geyser manufacturing, manufacturing of mining tools and apparel, and machinery in support of the mining companies in the area.

We have also identified the opportunity to develop the N12 Treasure Route, which would connect communities to the economic hub of Matlosana City. Among other benefits, better road infrastructure would make it easier for citizens to access employment opportunities and other services in Matlosana City.

Housing is also crucial the wellbeing of our people and the Isago Development aims to address the current housing backlog while providing wide-ranging business opportunities in the area.

To enhance our connectivity to the country, we have also identified the upgrading of the airport infrastructure. This will also support the transportation of cargo produced at the industrial park and elsewhere in the province.

With a view to leveraging existing opportunities for the future, we have put together a project producing biodiesel from sunflowers, 79 percent of which come from in the North West province and the Free State. Sunflowers have been identified as ideal for the South African climate and biodiesel is a cost-effective alternative to fossil fuel.

Heritage tourism in the province can build on South Africa's strong tourist appeal. Identified projects include the development of the Goudkoppie Theme Park at the site where gold was first discovered. Another exciting project would include the reconstruction of the house where Bishop Desmond Tutu was born, as well as the building of a shelter and home for the destitute. Through this we can also contribute to honoring our living heritage.

The need to ensure our young people are drawn into the mainstream of society and the economy has never been as important. We have therefore included in our plans to revitalize the economy of the City of Matlosana in particular, and the province in general, the establishment of a tertiary institution.

The magnitude of the sentiment expressed by Lehohla should inspire us as leaders who are tasked with ensuring the implementation of the National Development Plan, which seeks to create conditions for South Africa's development and prosperity.

We must put in place the right foundations, strong walls and impermeable roofs to ensure our efforts yield results which can be built upon long after we leave office. This is the only way to ensure we begin to build confidence in the citizens of our country that we will act in their best interests.

We are confident that our plans, aimed at the invigorating the economy of the North West province, will contribute to our competitive advantages which will add value for investors and our citizens alike. It is time to harness the collective power of our citizens to drive development and, at the same time, listen more to our people. We have heard the people of the North West province and we are prepared to act.

The author is the executive mayor of the City of Matlosana.

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