Despite boasting incredible natural beauty
and a variety of attractions for tourists, many people in the Eastern Cape face more struggles than most.
With much of the population living in isolated rural areas, including former homelands such as the Transkei and Ciskei, the province is among South Africa’s poorest.
According to Statistics South Africa, 12.7 percent of households in the Eastern Cape live in poverty.
Access to education, health and jobs remains a huge challenge, along with inadequate infrastructure and service delivery challenges.
However, there can be no doubt that the situation is steadily improving and Premier Lubabalo Mabuyane has his eyes fi rmly set on further growth for this province of high potential.
Industrial zones Since 2014, there has been an explosive growth of industrial zones in the Eastern Cape, based mainly around the automotive, shipping and energy sectors.
The province is home to two Special Economic Zones (SEZs) – the Coega SEZ and the East London Industrial Development Zone (IDZ).
Coega is considered to be the most successful SEZ in Africa,
boasting 40 operational investments with a cumulative investment value of R7 billion.
Another 22 investments are underway, including an R11 billion investment from the Beijing Automobile International Corporation, and a R3.5 billion investment in the Dedisa Peaking wind power farm.
Meanwhile, the East London IDZ has 26 investors, mainly operating in the fi elds of science and technology and renewable energy generation.
Premier Mabuyane said that government is also finalising an application for the designation of a new SEZ on the underdeveloped Wild Coast, which will be an agro-processing hub and create thousands of jobs for people in rural areas.
“Furthermore, we are upgrading the infrastructure of Industrial Parks, at Komani, Vulindlela, Fort Jackson, Somerset East, Butterworth and Dimbaza, to create jobs in these small towns that were once vibrant economic hubs,” he said.
The Premier said going forward, investment will focus on the key areas of manufacturing; agricultural production and processing; the oceans economy; skills development and youth employment; small, medium and micro enterprises’ support; tourism; creative arts; and townships and rural economic development.
Getting the basics right Over the previous term, the provincial government placed an intense focus on bolstering service delivery.
Through the Back to Basics programme, government embarked on a five-pronged strategy of putting people and their needs first;
building a culture of governance; ensuring sound financial management and accounting;
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