South Africa has possibly the largest infrastructure build programme on the African continent, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa said.
“Not only does this investment create work opportunities and benefit companies in construction, materials supply, manufacturing and other sectors, but it also reduces the cost of doing business and improves our capacity for faster growth,” Deputy President Ramaphosa said on Friday evening.
He was addressing the Muslim Civil Society Conference Gala-Dinner on the role of civil society in the implementation of the National Development Plan (NDP.)
He said for the economy to grow and create jobs, South Africa was increasing its investment in infrastructure, especially in water, energy, public transport and freight logistics.
He said work has already begun to implement some of the key measures described in the NDP.
Government had developed a Medium-Term Strategic Framework that outlines the priority programmes of government for the next five years.
The framework which is distilled from the NDP guides the work of all departments in pursuing fundamental economic transformation.
He told the Muslim community that President Jacob Zuma had recently launched the black industrialist programme, which seeks to unlock the potential of black entrepreneurs so they could contribute to the re-industrialisation of the economy.
“This programme will support black-owned manufacturing companies with access to finance, access to markets, skills development, and quality and productivity improvement,” Deputy President Ramaphosa said.
Government was also undertaking measures to reduce red tape and regulatory obstacles for small businesses, while providing support for them to become sustainable and profitable.
“Through measures like the Industrial Policy Action Plan, government is working to develop and diversify the economy’s productive capacity.
“Among other things, this includes efforts to add more value to the mineral resources we extract through greater beneficiation,” he said.
This would help reduce South Africa’s dependence on the export of unprocessed commodities, boosts domestic manufacturing and creates jobs.
Deputy President Ramaphosa said the attainment of a decent standard of life for South Africans would require a capable and developmental state working in partnership with all key stakeholders in the country.
“Our public institutions will need to be better managed, resources will need to be distributed more efficiently, wastage will need to be reduced, and corruption and mismanagement will need to be punished and eradicated.
“Government will need to be more accountable, more responsive to the needs of the people, more transparent, and more effective at drawing on the resources and capabilities that exist outside government,” he said.
Auwal Socio-Economic Research Institute (ASRI) Executive Director Muhammad Cajee called on South African citizens to be active by working together with government, civil society and business to implement practical solutions to address the socio-economic issues facing the country.
“We have to act in unison…regardless of race, class and political ideology to build South Africa and make it work,” Cajee said.
He encouraged South Africans to be engaged in policy debates, to put forward solutions on national priorities such as education, crime, education and the levels of poverty.
“Our country needs our active participation to be successful with any policy implementation, our communities need to be active in continuous engagements with government in order to have our voices and opinions heard in a meaningful, patriotic and organised way,” Cajee said