8 December 2010
Government, under the leadership of Minister Ebrahim Patel, released the Framework of the New Economic Growth Path aimed at enhancing growth, employment creation and equity. The policy’s principal target is to create five million jobs over the next 10 years. This framework reflects government’s commitment to prioritising employment creation in all economic policies. It identifies strategies that will enable South Africa to grow in a more equitable and inclusive manner while attaining South Africa’s developmental agenda.
Central to the new growth path is a massive investment in infrastructure as a critical driver of jobs across the economy.
- The framework identifies investments in five key areas namely: energy, transport, communication, water and housing. Sustaining high levels of public investment in these areas will create jobs in construction, operation and maintenance of infrastructure.
- The new growth path sees the infrastructure programme as a trigger to build a local supplier industry for the manufacture of the components for the build-programme.
- Specific measures, particularly changes to procurement policy and regulations, are identified to ensure that this is achieved. Risks include the still fragile global recovery; competition and collaboration with the new fast-growing economies; and competing interests domestically.
The New Growth Path identifies five other priority areas as part of the programme to create jobs, through a series of partnerships between the State and the private sector.
- Green economy: expansions in construction and the production of technologies for solar, wind and biofuels is supported by the draft Energy on Integrated Resource Plan. Clean manufacturing and environmental services are projected to create 300 000 jobs over the next decade.
- Agriculture: jobs will be created by addressing the high input costs and upscaling processing and export marketing. Support for small holders will include access to key inputs. Government will explore ways to improve working and living conditions for the country’s 660 000 farm workers. The growth path also commits the Government to unblocking stalled land transfers, which constrain new investment.
- Mining: calls for increased mineral extraction and improving infrastructure and skills development. It focuses support for beneficiation on the final manufacture of consumer and capital goods, which can create large-scale employment. It foresees the establishment of a state mining company concentrating on beneficiation and enhanced resource exploitation in competition with a strong private mining sector.
- Manufacturing: calls for re-industrialisation in the South African economy based on improving performance through innovation, skills development and reduced input costs in the economy. The document targets a doubling of South Africa’s research and development investment to 2% of gross domestic product by 2018.
- Tourism and other high-level services: hold employment potential and the framework calls for South Africa to position itself as the higher education hub of the African continent.
Smarter coordination between government and stronger partnerships with the private sector and organised labour will galvanise our resources in achieving the aims of the New Growth Path.
- Government calls on every South African to contribute to building our nation over the coming 20 years to ensure a collective effort, creativity and solidarity.
- Good leadership and strong governance are critical in ensuring that South Africa takes charge of the new opportunities. Government commits to cut wasteful spending, tackle corruption and align the allocation of public money with developmental priorities.
- Government recognises that job targets can only be achieved if the State performs better and if the private sector grows in labour-absorbing parts of the economy.
- The New Growth Path identifies measures to strengthen the capacity of the state and enhance the performance of the private sector to achieve employment and growth goals.
The New Growth Path proposes major improvements in government, with a call for slashing unnecessary red-tape, improving competition in the economy and stepping up skills development.
- The role of government departments and agencies in meeting set targets for scarce and key skills is critical. This emphasis on skills applies across the economy and will be a centrepiece of partnership with business and labour.
- Key targets include the aim to produce 30 000 engineers by 2014, with a focus on Mathematics and Science as well as changes to university funding formulae to achieve this, and 50 000 artisans by 2015, with annual targets for Eskom and Transnet and for individual Sector Education and Training Authority institutions to achieve this.
- The document calls for greater focus on workplace training, targeting on-the-job training and refresher programmes for 10% of the workforce every year.
- It also calls for measures to make it easier to import scarce skills by streamlining the work permit and visa system. This will be accompanied by a skills transfer programme to ensure that local skills development is enhanced.
The framework identifies a “development package” – a coordinated set of actions across a broad front, this consists of macroeconomic strategies, microeconomic measures and stakeholder commitments to drive employment and economic growth.
- The document recognises the challenges of an uncompetitive currency and sets out clear steps for government to address the impact of the Rand on the economy.
- In expanding on government’s tools to address inflation, a stronger role will be considered for competition policy and strategic investigations into conduct leading to high and volatile prices for intermediate inputs for producers and basic consumer goods, including important commodities such as maize, steel and fertilisers.
- Government calls for greater focus by South African business on opportunities in Africa’s fast-growing economies. This is accompanied by commitments to improve cross-border infrastructure and measures to address unnecessary regulatory obstacles to the movement of people and goods, as part of building a common market on the continent.
South Africa cuts new HIV infections by one-third
According to the 2010 UNAids’ Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic, South Africa has decreased the rate of new HIV infections by more than one-third over the past 10 years, contributing to a significant slowing down of new HIV infections worldwide.
Trade and Industry/International Relations
United Kingdom (UK) commits to double trade with South Africa
British Minister for Africa, Mr Henry Bellingham, set a goal to double trade volumes and bolster economic ties between South Africa and the UK by 2015. Mr Bellingham made the pledge during his bilateral discussions with the Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Mr Ebrahim Ebrahim. The trade goal was set by President Jacob Zuma during his state visit to the UK.
South Africa’s automotive industry receives a boost
Daimler will invest R2 billion in its Mercedes-Benz South Africa unit to produce next-generation C-class vehicles for global markets by 2014. This decision follows investment by General Motors South Africa and Volkswagen South Africa and their affiliates into the Eastern Cape, and augurs well for this component of the government’s recently updated Industrial Policy Action Plan.
Launch of South African space agency
South Africa will soon have its own space agency to promote and coordinate space science and technology programmes in the country. The South African National Space Agency (Sansa) will be launched in Johannesburg, on 9 December 2010. Sansa’s National Space Strategy will be introduced at the same time to position South Africa among global leaders in space science and technology.
Police training extended and intensified
Police Commissioner Bheki Cele said aspiring police officers will now be required to train for two years, instead of the traditional one-year training period. Officers will now spend one year at a police college and another year undergoing field training. Those who get approval will face stricter entrance criteria.
South Africa boosted by United Nations (UN) report
South Africa has improved in its position on the UN Development Programme's Human Development Index moving up from 129th to the 110th slot. The index is used to rank the level of “human development” that a country is experiencing and separates countries into developed, developing and underdeveloped categories.
Quicker permits for foreigners
South Africa has centralised the issuing of study, work and business permits, and is looking at extending the period of their validity, to make it easier for foreigners to work and study in the country, and for businesses to import scarce skills. The Department of Home Affairs said that study and business permits would now be issued from its headquarters in Pretoria.
New homes for families
More than 50 families that have been living on the side of the road for 10 months have been allocated houses. The Department of Human Settlements and Red Ants helped the families to move to their new homes in Chris Hani informal settlement. This is one of the department’s initiatives to improve the lives of people.
2010 matric exams a success – government
The Department of Basic Education has hailed the 2010 matric exam as "one of the best that there has been for a while". The department’s spokesperson, Granville Whittle, said that “there were no serious irregularities that have threatened the integrity of the exams."
Government to boost numeracy and literacy levels in lower grades
As per President Zuma’s directive, numeracy and literacy workbooks developed by an expert team, will be used in grades one to six on the first day of the new academic year. This is part of government's effort to tackle the dismal numeracy and literacy rates in the lower grades. R750 million has been budgeted for the workbooks.
The South African government received a positive assessment of the domestic financial sector, made by the IMF and the World Bank, in the Report on Observance of Standards and Codes (ROSC). The IMF and the World Bank undertook a detailed assessment in March 2010 of South Africa’s adherence to international banking, insurance and securities markets’ regulatory standards in terms of their Financial Sector Assessment Programme (FSAP).