By – SAnews.gov.za
The Maluti-A-Phofung Special Economic Zone (MAP-SEZ), which is scheduled to start with construction in March 2018, is expected to produce 255 direct permanent jobs and 420 indirect jobs in 2018/19.
“A further estimate of 1 700 temporary work opportunities will be created during the construction phase of these top structures, as well as through the phase one bulk services project, which commenced in September 2017,” said outgoing Free State Premier Ace Magashule.
Magashule announced the projected jobs when he delivered his last State of the Province Address on Tuesday evening.
The MAP-SEZ, located in the eastern part of the Free State, was officially launched by former President Jacob Zuma on 25 April 2017.
SEZs are geographically designated areas in the country set aside for specifically targeted economic activities to promote economic growth.
Magashule said the forecasted jobs were welcome as they would further improve the provincial unemployment rate, which had already started to show some improvement.
“The unemployment rate improved from 34.4% in quarter three of 2016 to 31.8% in quarter three 2017, which signifies a decline in the unemployment rate of 2.6% year-on-year,” said Magashule .
Industrialisation unlocks economic growth
The Free State noted manufacturing and industrialisation as the key to unlocking economic growth in the province.
“We have worked hard to realise the growth of the manufacturing sector. For the period 2006 to 2016, the manufacturing sector, in terms of the GVA [gross value added], recorded an average annual growth rate of 1.12%. This sector furthermore experienced a growth in its contribution to the GVA over the 10-year period, from R14 billion in 2006 to R15.7 billion in 2016,” said Magashule .
Magashule credited the growth of the manufacturing sector to the revitalisation of the Industrial Parks in Botshabelo and Phutadijhaba, and committed to support black industrialists.
“We have entered into an agreement with the Department of Trade and Industry to support black industrialists with funding,” he said.
Magashule said government will continue to source its goods and services from these black industrialists for linen, government uniforms and other commodities.
Creating jobs through infrastructure
Over the past three financial years, over R5 billion was spent on infrastructure projects, which created several jobs.
“Utilising the job creation model of the Department of Labour and Stats SA, 21 542 jobs have been created through these infrastructure projects across municipalities, provincial departments and entities.
“Furthermore, 1 447 jobs have been created in State entity projects. During this financial year, those infrastructure projects will continue and those to be concluded will be finalised for the sustainability of these jobs,” said Magashule .