Infrastructure investment key to industrialisation

PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma says infrastructure development is crucial to industrialising the economy and creating employment during turbulent times.

The President said this at the back of Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) announcing a slight recovery of the economy after it contracted by 1.3% in the second quarter.

Delivering his annual address to the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) on Thursday, President Zuma said government and all sectors have had to navigate the country’s economy through a difficult global environment.
“The release of the GDP [Gross Domestic Product] figures shows the challenges faced by slowing global demand on the mining sector as well as the effects of the drought on agricultural output.

“The manufacturing sector grew robustly and together with growth in other sectors, helped to ensure a GDP quarterly growth of 0.7%. The economy had contracted by 1.3% in the second quarter of this year. We have therefore avoided a recession in the economy, though, we still need to boost the rate of growth.

“Infrastructure development is critical for both the industrialisation and to boost employment in construction and other sectors, especially during such a difficult time,” he said.

The President said government was now investing roughly R1 billion per working day in new infrastructure, with a focus on the areas he outlined in the nine-point plan during his State of the Nation Address in February.

The past three months has seen stability in the supply of electricity to consumers.

“I opened the first unit of the Medupi power station to come onto the grid in August this year. The Presidential Infrastructure Coordination Commission (PICC) has tracked the supply of renewable energy.

“About 2000 Megawatts of energy is now available for consumption, all of which has assisted in avoiding load shedding.

“However, we still need to speed up existing build programmes to develop the reserves of energy needed to ensure that maintenance and outage challenges in our power plants do not negatively affect the economy and our people,” said President Zuma.

Cable theft Bill

The President, meanwhile, commended law makers for the manner in which they have considered and processed the Criminal Matters Amendment Bill.

The Bill creates a new category of crimes for theft of cable and metal from public infrastructure and governs both bail for accused and sentencing of guilty parties.

“Exactly a year ago, I convened a meeting of the PICC to discuss with premiers and metro mayors the growing problem of cable and metal theft from the infrastructure programmes.

“We finalised the Criminal Matters Amendment Bill, which was then submitted to Parliament and which served in this House earlier this morning. I wish to recognise and appreciate the manner in which Parliament has considered the Bill.

“This is meant to send a clear message to our resolve to stop cable theft which is a serious economic crime,” the President said.