Accelerating economic growth and development

McCollen Ntsikelelo Jack, said his department will continue to support small business development


The Northern Cape MEC for Finance, Economic Development and Tourism, McCollen Ntsikelelo Jack, said his department will continue to support small business development in the province because it is a catalyst for job creation and economic growth
Revealing plans for the current financial year, Jack indicated that local procurement opportunities will be identified in the Strategic Infrastructure Projects (SIPS).

“The economic potential for shale gas extraction will be pursued and closer relations with state-owned enterprises will be fostered to link even more SMMEs to public procurement opportunities,” he said.

Jack said the SMME development programme will continue to offer the non-financial support ranging from business planning, marketing, assisting with access to new markets, access to funding, finance and incentives, and information and capacity building.

“This support will be rendered to greenfield and brownfield enterprises and entrepreneurs to ensure they increase sales, markets, the turn-over and job creation,” Jack said.

In terms of financial support for the SMMEs, the department will continue to support enterprises, the development of local economies and the empowerment of historically disadvantaged individuals through the Economic Growth and Development Fund (EGDF).

“Out of the R64.949-million allocated for the SMME development in the province, this financial year, an amount of R29.799-million is set aside for the EGDF,” said Jack.

“The Northern Cape SMME Trust will manage the fund through advertising in our district-based media houses, calling for the submission of business plans through our districts, long-listing and short-listing will be done and recommendations will be submitted for funding to the Northern Cape SMME Trust,” he added.

He said the new model of using the Northern Cape SMME Trust will allow the department to provide adequate support and formulate a proper framework that can satisfy all stakeholders and enhance transparency.

“A concerted effort will be made to ensure the equitable regional spread of funding, and public awareness will most likely be the key determinant to the number of applications received,” explained Jack.

MEC Jack tabled his plans after successful outbound missions to Finland, the United Arab Emirates and the People’s Republic of China and Namibia. Jack indicated that he will not rest until he has achieved his target of creating more jobs in the province through investments.

Jack said he was impressed by the level of eagerness shown by the newly-appointed Northern Cape Economic Development Agency (NCEDA) board.

“The board has an energetic Chairperson in Advocate Lungile Bomela. They (NCEDA) were part of our delegation in our international trips to lure investors into the Province.

“Their mandate is clear, to stimulate economic growth through the development of key sectors, the facilitation of trade and the attraction of investment. The need to address the high level of unemployment confronting our people cannot be over-emphasised. It is against this background that we are embarking on a large re-industrialisation programme for sustainable growth,” Jack explained.

MEC Jack said he will continue to pursue initiatives to attract foreign direct investment (FDI) “with a strategic focus on those initiatives that impact economic growth and job creation”.

He said the high-impact projects such as the Upington Special Economic Zone (SEZ) and the Boegoebaai Deep Port Harbour Development were extensively marketed in their recent endeavours to attract foreign investment.

The Port of Boegoebaai will catalyse economic impacts associated with the key economic drivers that will enable investments in natural resources sectors that are currently constrained by the lack of access to infrastructure. In enabling iron-ore and manganese exports, the development of the Namaqualand gas-to-industry cluster and fertiliser plant is a priority.

“In order to attract export-orientated manufacturing companies to the area, permits will be issued for the development of industrial parks as an SEZ initiative intended,” said Jack.

The port at Boegoebaai would be the only major port between Walvis Bay and Cape Town to have a dry dock and maintenance facilities for ships requiring assistance.

He mentioned that during the recent mission to the People’s Republic of China, the Northern Cape Economic Development Agency entered into a Memorandum of Co-operation with the SA Honglin Investments (PTY) LTD to pursue the development of the Northern Cape Economic Development Corridor as a natural extension to the National Development Plan and the Chinese One Belt One, Road Initiative.

“The agreement will lead to the development of the deep-sea harbour in Boegoebaai as well as the training centre that will largely benefit the myriad of unemployed youth in the area,” he explained.

He said to kick-start this investment programme, a management committee will be established for managing and coordinating the project in areas such as:

  • The proposed harbour development and associated rail and road infrastructure linking the port with its economic hinterland.
  • The identification of a mix of commodities that could provide the base for the rail and port infrastructure.
  • A possible cement plant, natural gas terminal, fertiliser plant, mineral processing projects and industrial projects.
  • A renewable energy project.
  • An industrial zone to bolster the development of the local industry.
  • A possible new water storage and hydro-electric project.

“This committee will take responsibility in consultation with EXCO as the Executive Council will take the final decision for obtaining the necessary regulatory approvals, recruiting investment funding for projects, undertaking technical design work and liaising with all the relevant national government departments and development agencies as and when required,” said Jack.

He further indicated that history was made during the recent trip to the People’s Republic of China. “A Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the Hebei GEO University, the Sol Plaatje University and the Kimberley International Diamond and Jewellery Academy (KIDJA) towards establishing a joint bachelor’s degree, which will be the first of its kind in the world, on diamond and jewellery development,” Jack enthused.

He said this initiative will see Northern Cape students spending three years in China and one year in Kimberley to study everything about the diamond industry, which is meeting the growing market needs in China.

“It will also generate financial income to KDJI and KIDJA, as well as international awareness of the Kimberley diamond brand. The design and accreditation in South Africa on the Joint Bachelor’s Degree (Diamond major) programme will be completed in 2019,” he explained.

He said the existence of this official platform will provide Chinese investors with the confidence to venture into the Northern Cape, especially when it comes to collaborating with SMMEs.

“The initiation of the China-South Africa Diamond Conversion Mechanism will also open an official entry for South African entities to consolidate the brand assets of the province’s diamonds in the Chinese market,” he said.

The province is billed to host the inaugural Renewable Energy Conference in the small Northern Cape town of De Aar from 23 to 24 August 2018.

With the Northern Cape dubbed the “Solar King of Africa” by the Minister of Energy, Jeff Radebe, the province is bound to come out with tangible policies, which will see it benefitting from the direct normal radiation, which is one of the highest in the world, surpassing that of Spain and North America.

The province is incredibly rich in its potential renewable energy power generation capacity.

It is home to 31 of the 62 operational projects, which have, so far, contributed a total of 1 925MW to the national grid. The aggregate impact of the Bid Window 1 to 4 and Small IPP projects’ investments and earnings projected for local communities in the province (over 20 years) present a net income of R18.3-billion. The IPP projects in the Northern Cape that have been procured in Bid Windows 1 to 4 and the Small IPP Programme have made a combined socio-economic development commitment of R13.2-billion over the 20-year planned project’s operational life.

“These funds will be used for community development and poverty eradication projects in the province, including areas such as health, education, social welfare, child and youth development and taking care of the elderly,” said Jack.

He indicated that the enterprise development contributions, which seek to stimulate small business development in the province, amount to R3.5-billion.

“This contribution will accrue over the operational life of the projects located in the province. With this in mind, the department will continue to facilitate the expansion of the renewable energy sector and the roll-out of the Enterprise Incubator Programme,” he explained.

Jack is concerned that the mining industry has left significant environmental damage in the province. In an effort to mitigate the damage, he said they will be consulting with the Department of Mineral Resources to avail previously mined land for rehabilitation and other uses.

“We will also engage all the mining companies in the province focusing on their reserves, rehabilitation opportunities and the possibility of availing land for agricultural purposes,” he added.

With regard to gambling, Jack said he will continue to talk with the National Minister about the need for the approval of the two new casino licenses in the province.

“The Bingo Operating License is on course. A legislative change and amendment are essential in this regard. Legislative amendments should include the collection of levy for Bingo as, currently, it does not include Bingo for collection. This process should be finalised soon,” he said.

In terms of policy, research and innovation, the department will host a two-day Northern Cape eKasi ICT Summit in Kimberley from 26 to 27September 2018.

“In our quest to bridge the digital divide, we welcome the initiative by a young black IT company, Afrovation Community Trust, that approached us with the view to donate free WI-FI hotspots in our communities. This free access to connectivity will enable the community at large to have access to information. The proposed free WI-FI offering will enable the community to connect two devices simultaneously at 500 megabytes per device,” said Jack.

In order to consolidate provincial economic development plans and projects, the department will host an Economic Colloquium during the 2018/19 financial year. The Colloquium is a pre-cursor to the Provincial Investment Conference.

Jack said tourism in the province continues to promote the Northern Cape as a competitive tourist destination.

“The Coastal and Marine Tourism Strategy will be rolled out to augment policy interventions in terms of Operation Phakisa and the Oceans Economy in order to diversify the economy on the West Coast.

“To this end, the department will continue its support of the Small Harbours and State-Owned Coastal Property Development initiatives in the Namakwa District,” he said.

Jack indicated that feasibility studies will be conducted on developing mini-conference centres in the John Taolo Gaetsewe and Pixley Ka Seme Districts.

The National Department of Tourism has partnered with the department to develop tourism infrastructure in the coastal zone targeting Port Nolloth, McDougall’s Bay, Kleinzee, Hondeklip Bay and Springbok.

“We partnered with the national departments of Tourism and Science and Technology to develop the Square Kilometre Array Exploratorium in Carnarvon. The designs and preparations for construction will be completed in this financial year,” he concluded. 

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