Keynote Address by Honourable Mr. Abraham Vosloo, MEC for Finance, Economic Development and Tourism, on the occasion of Northern Cape Workplace Challenge Webminar: “Unlocking South Africa’s productivity potential for sustained competitiveness and economic growth post Covid 19”.
Programme Director Mr. Shadley Mohamed
CEO of Productivity SA Mr. Mothunye Mothiba
Dr Chriselle Meniago from the University of Sol Plaatjie
Chief production officer of Orange River Wines Mr. Altus Theron
Mr Albert Brink
Mr Zolile Albanie from the department of labour and employment
Representatives from NOCCI
Representatives from SEDA
Delegates connecting to this Webiner through Zoom platform
Members of the media
Ladies and Gentlemen
I wish to express my deep appreciation for the invitation to deliver a keynote address in this important event themed: “Unlocking South Africa’s productivity potential for sustained competitiveness and economic growth post Covid 19”.
Today’s webinar augurs well with our endeavors as the Northern Cape Government in exploring measures towards increasing productivity and sustaining economic growth in our province.
Programme Director, I am informed that Productivity SA host this event to this event takes place immediately after celebrating Productivity month in October, as an annual campaign which aims to elevate the importance of productivity and inculcate a culture of competitiveness in every South African and demonstrate the positive changes that can be brought about through productivity.
Unfortunately, this year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we could not meet physically since large gatherings are still prohibited. Last when this event was hosted, none of us imagined that the world would be engulfed by the invisible enemy called the COVID-19 pandemic that has claimed more than a million lives around the globe, deepened poverty and widened the inequality gap.
Thus, Productivity SA opted to host a joint webinar with the objective of primarily promoting the importance of productivity to every South African and to highlight productivity as a catalyst for sustainable and inclusive growth and development as well as the creation of decent jobs.
Ladies and gentlemen, we are currently on a drive to reach out to SMMEs in the province to explore ways and means to support them so as to enhance productivity culture and economic growth towards job creation in our province through a series of awareness campaigns.
We trust that today’s event will help suggest practical ways to build back better for a post COVID-19 Northern Cape and South Africa, free of poverty, inequality and underdevelopment. A Northern Cape world of inclusive economic growth and shared prosperity and it should be a province where young people are able to grow and thrive and where women have equal rights and opportunities.
Programme Director, I am therefore hopeful that this webinar will allow us ample time to delve into this theme in detail, with the intention of emerging with concrete plans that can provide succinct goals for South Africa and Northern Cape in particular.
Programme Director, our province has a consumption driven economy which inherently is primary sector enabled, our Gross Domestic Production (GDP) and Gross Value Added (GVA) are dominated by the tertiary sector led by the Community Services Sector (CSS) that is unsustainable in nature.
The tertiary sector nearly accrues to 60% whereas the secondary sector is nearly non-existent at 3% and our primary sector is below 30%. Other sectors statistics indicates the effect on the country as imports increased while manufacturing decreased and jobs were lost in the process.
Programme Director, our economic indicators are a reflection of the characteristics of our economy which are mainly large spatial size, with pockets of economic activity which are based on resources that are dispersed and highly specialised.
The indicators are also in the context of low and dispersed population with cyclical trends on local consumption with limited access to markets and high input costs.
Programme Director, I am deliberately putting forward this problem statement which is quite critical because we need to explore new ways of conducting our business and explore new markets for unique products and services beyond our provincial borders.
As our economy is attempting to recover from the lockdown impact, our existing and future Northern Cape enterprises, we need to be forward looking and plan for the future.
In doing so, we need to ensure innovation and be creative so as to unlock new markets and only then, we would be in a position to clearly articulate our milestones in context of “Workplace Challenge Milestone” in a true sense of the word.
Ladies and gentlemen, as a province, our primary focussing on localisation and our development partners are currently criss-crossing the province, working with the Local Economic Development (LED) offices of our municipalities with the aim of synchronizing government services and activities along with those of the SMMEs on the measures for improved workplace flagship programmes.
We aim to improve productivity and competitiveness for enterprises through improved value chain efficiencies and collaborative relations although the implementation is on a very low scale in line with COVID19 health protocols.
True to your mandate, we call upon you to take your programmes to those provinces and districts which are detached from economic mainstream activities if we are to achieve these critical milestones.
We are not here today to deliver rosy speeches and useless rhetoric; the reality is that there is very little economic activity in the Northern Cape and we stand to miss a lot when coming to such programmes if entities such as Productivity SA do not have visible footprints in our province.
Programme Director, I therefore wish to use this opportunity to lobby formally the leadership of Productivity SA to pay particular attention to our province as you roll out your activities and indeed, we are pleased that we invited and participating as a province in this important occasion.
Programme Director, as other provinces take stock and celebrate these Workplace Challenge Milestones, the reality is that in the context of our province, there is very little to report and celebrate because of the structure of our economy and the pressures that our economy is currently experiencing due to the factors that I have mentioned above.
However, we are proud with the participation and contribution of Orange River Wines but something must definitely be done to expose our productivity potential as province in other economic sectors more especially the mining sector.
More than ever before, our SMMEs, which are critical players in the economy, desperately needs services from important agencies such as Productivity SA and many others.
Be that as it may, we are please to report that the Norther Cape Department of Economic Development and Tourism has a designated person who is responsible for co-ordination and monitoring of the activities of Productivity SA.
We have also signed a Memorandum of Understanding between ourselves as Department with Productivity SA which outlines each party’s role to promote employment, income, wealth growth and increased workplace productivity.
The memorandum also articulates measures which aims to improve productivity and competitiveness of enterprises (emerging and existing) of all sizes with priority sectors, and how will both parties develop appropriate capabilities of Small and Medium Enterprises and cooperatives to adopt world-class productivity enhancement best practices, with a specific focus on products, process and the people.
Our strategy is to support enterprises facing economic difficulties and distress so as to prevent job losses and minimising retrenchment of workers in the labour sector.
We aim to increase productivity in sectors such as Mining, Agriculture, Agro-processing, Agri-business, ICT, Tourism, Village and Township Economy and the entire Public Sector regime.
As we are in the process of reviewing our budget allocations which were mainly redirected towards the interventions of COVID 19, our aim to, in practical terms, assist workers who have been retrenched to access survival mechanisms, including entrepreneurial skills or business start-up training, promote cooperation, skills development and information sharing. As the government we are more than ready to support all the initiatives which are geared towards changing the economic structure of our country, and province.
Programme Director, the fact that the Department of Labour and Employment, through the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) has pledged R104 million to Productivity SA for the Job Saving Programme Business Turnaround and Recovery Programme which is aimed at preventing job losses and to implement turn-around strategies to companies facing economic difficulties speaks volumes.
We are of the considered view that, this capital injection will go a long way in addressing the above-mentioned challenges and we wish to call upon management to consider provinces such as the Northern Cape when they take decisions in relation to its disbursement.
Programme Director, I once-more wish to extend my sincere gratitude to the entire team of productivity SA and sister government departments in their unwavering efforts, working side by side with our business community to create a prosperous society which is anchored in values which espouses justice, equity, human dignity, successful livelihoods address socio-economic phenomena labelled as persistent triple challenges of poverty, inequality and unemployment in the context of antagonistic class contradiction of race, class and gender.
I wish you a productive workshop and hope that you will emerge from this workshop with clear resolutions which would put the sector in developmental trajectory.
I thank you!!!!