Despite tough times, we’ve made significant strides this year, says Ramaphosa

11 December 2023 - 16:56
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President Cyril Ramaphosa. File photo.
President Cyril Ramaphosa. File photo.
Image: Esa Alexander

Despite a difficult and challenging year, South Africa has managed to attract investment into the economy.

This is according to President Cyril Ramaphosa, who said in his weekly newsletter South Africans have persevered, despite adversity. 

“Like many across the world, South Africans have faced a substantial rise in the cost of living. Our post-Covid recovery has been held back by continued load-shedding and inefficiency at our ports and railways,” he said. 

Our economy has been weighed down by international events, including the Russia-Ukraine conflict and instability in the global economy. Yet even in these circumstances, companies have continued to invest in our economy. At the fifth South Africa Investment Conference earlier this year, we surpassed our target for new investment commitments over five years.”

The president commended the economy’s growth, albeit too slowly and far below its potential.

The number of people in employment has returned to pre-Covid levels, but jobs are still not being created fast enough to reduce levels of our unemployment. While we continue to face a number of challenges, the electricity crisis is the main threat to our progress.”

Ramaphosa recalled his state of the nation remarks, emphasising how the country’s most immediate task is to dramatically reduce the severity of load-shedding in the coming months and ultimately end load-shedding altogether. 

“The work that has been done since then in implementing the energy action plan is showing positive results, giving us greater confidence that we will bring load-shedding to an end. While we experienced some of the worst load-shedding ever in the first few months of the year, there has been a measurable and steady decline in the severity of load-shedding over the last few months.”

Though electricity supply is still not stable, the president said, as we experienced in the last few weeks, the overall trend is towards less severe load-shedding.

“Damaged units at the Kusile power station have returned to service ahead of schedule and plant maintenance has received close attention. 

Government is working closely with Transnet, industry and other social partners to relieve congestion at our ports and increase the volumes of freight being carried on key rail corridors
President Cyril Ramaphosa

“What gives us hope for even further improvements is the progress that has been made in bringing new electricity generation online. Regulatory reforms we have initiated have enabled a massive increase in private investment in electricity generation, with over 12,000MW of confirmed projects in development.”

After the introduction of tax incentives and financing mechanisms, Ramaphosa announced that the amount of installed rooftop solar has more than doubled to over 4,500MW in the last year. 

“Government is working closely with Transnet, industry and other social partners to relieve congestion at our ports and increase the volumes of freight being carried on key rail corridors. 

“Several significant infrastructure projects in areas like social housing, road construction, rural bridges and dams are contributing to greater economic activity, and providing much-needed infrastructure for the growth of our economy and the needs of our people.”

The president said his government has also undertaken far-reaching reforms to improve the competitiveness of the economy. This includes, for example, proceeding with the digital migration of our broadcasting service to free up broadband spectrum and reduce the cost of data, and introducing visa reforms to attract more skills into our economy. 

“As we have taken these steps to establish a platform for sustainable growth into the future, we have also been providing important support to South Africans affected by poverty, unemployment and rising prices.”

Ramaphosa said his government has continued with the special social relief of distress (SRD) grant introduced during Covid, which has kept millions out of poverty and continues to provide support for those who are unemployed. 

“The presidential employment stimulus has created work and livelihood opportunities for over 1.2-million people since its establishment. This has provided income, work experience and skills for many unemployed people.

“Over 4-million young people have registered on the SAYouth online platform to access work placement, training and other services. Through this platform, more than 1-million young people have accessed opportunities for learning and employment. 

“We are also making progress in tackling crime and corruption.”

He hailed the SAPS’s economic infrastructure task teams that have made breakthroughs and arrests for illegal mining, cash-in-transit heists, cable theft, drug smuggling and similar crimes.

“We have recruited and trained thousands of new police personnel to strengthen the fight against crime.”

Ramaphosa pointed to improvements in governance. For example, in her most recent report, auditor-general Tsakani Maluleke said “we have seen some encouraging signs of improvement in the ability of national and provincial government to transparently report on their finances and performance, and to comply with key legislation”.

The president said that though times are still tough, his government had made important strides over the past year to fix the problems in the economy and society.

TimesLIVE


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