Limpopo province has recorded the second highest employment gain of any province in the 2016/17 financial year, creating 64 000 new jobs during that period.
This was reported by MEC for the Limpopo Economic Development, Environment and Tourism department (LEDET) Seaparo Sekoati in this year’s departmental budget speech, which was tabled at the Lebowakgomo-based provincial legislature on March 23. The MEC reiterated that the unemployment rate has reduced to 19.3% in the fourth quarter of 2016 compared to 19.8% during the same period in 2015.
In his address, Sekoati indicated that Limpopo province has become one of the major players in the tourism sector, after being ranked third after Gauteng and Western Cape in national and international arrivals — with 405 734 visitors in the province generating R1.8-billion annually.
Reflecting the department’s passion for local economic development, Sekoati also announced the agreement signed between Limpopo Economic Development Agency (LEDA) and the Asian-based company Shenzhen Hoimor Resources Holding Company. The agreement, amounting to $3.8-billion, will provide for the establishment, development, planning, control, security, operation and management of the metallurgical industrial cluster within the Musina Makhado Special Economic Zone (SEZ) within the next 10 years. The project is intended to create an estimated 19 000 jobs.
The MEC also mentioned the Tubatse SEZ, which is being considered by the department of trade and industry. “In a short space of time, the Tubatse SEZ project has accumulated an investment of R13-billion and the application is being processed for submission to the SEZ Advisory Board”, MEC lamented. This project aims to create over 1 000 jobs.
The department will also be embarking on township-village imbizos with business formations. This consultations will culminate into the Limpopo Township and Village Revitalisation Strategy, which will address:
- The current financial products that do not address the needs of entrepreneurs;
- Dominance of ownership by foreign entrepreneurs;
- Proliferation of retail shopping malls displacing local retail traders; and
- Weak bargaining power of traditional retailers.
“LEDA [Limpopo Economic Development Agency] is facilitating the establishment of a provincial retail outlet bulk-buying co-operative. The co-operative is envisaged to have over 200 members and expected to offer bulk-buying price advantages”, added Sekoati.
According to the MEC, to highlight support towards youth, women and people with disabilities, 134 graduates were absorbed by the Limpopo government. Of the 120 trainee field rangers recruited through the Jobs Fund in consultation with traditional authorities last year, 30 have been deployed in the reserves from April 2016 and the other 60 will be deployed from the April 1 2017. In addition, 6 362 young people were trained on business and technical skills while 3 907 secured employment in both the public and private sector. A further 8 300 will be absorbed in the 2017/18 financial year as part of the same program.
Other development and training that occurred in the previous financial year includes:
- 31 being certified as energy managers;
- 6 fully accredited as artisans;
- 949 community members receiving ICT skills training.
Other departmental focus areas for ensuring the province’s economic growth that the MEC addressed include:
- Support for co-operatives and SMMEs;
- Building of the financial services sector;
- Stabilisation of the mining sector;
- Transformation of the wildlife economy and environmental management;
- Tourism growth and development;
- Development of the ICT sector; and
- Growth in productive investments.