Gauteng premier David Makhura has placed infrastructure development at the centre of growing the province’s economy.
Delivering the state of the province address at the Brixton Community Centre in Johannesburg on Monday, Makhura said the province had been devastated by Covid-19.
“It’s all hands on deck,” Makhura said.
He said the pandemic had eroded the positive trajectory the province had been on before 2019.
“Many livelihoods have been lost due to Covid-19. We’ve vowed these difficult times shall not break us.
“Unemployment has become a crisis and our ability to deliver services constitutes to an emergency.
“We’re opening up value chains, we’re bringing in local content there and promoting the development of commercially viable enterprises and SMME growth, including township enterprises,” Makhura said.
He said this would be done through the newly formed provincial war room that included industry leaders from the private and public sector to drive economic recovery, unlock growth in every sector and create sustainable jobs.
“We’re bringing each of the state-owned enterprises that are doing work in our province to ignite growth in Gauteng.
“We can’t sit somewhere as government alone and think we’d go and meet with business where business sits alone.
“Labour can’t sit alone as well. We need to open opportunities, particularly in new sectors of the economy. We need to act in a way that we did during Covid-19 and fight inclusively,” he said.
Touching on the new industries, Makhura said in the past 12 months, the provincial government identified opportunities for cannabis production in the province.
Earlier this month, while delivering the state of the nation address, President Cyril Ramaphosa punted hemp and cannabis as a new sector that the government was promoting which could create 130,000 new jobs.
However, he only mentioned KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape as potential sector hubs.
“Last year, I said this sector has opportunities and we must work with the industry players and regulators to unlock opportunities,” Makhura said.
“There are many cannabis growers in Gauteng, not just growers but those processing medicinal cannabis products and retailing them right here,” he said.
He added that sector leaders said their biggest obstacles were issues around regulation and obtaining licences.
“Black participants and those who want to grow cannabis are saying the biggest challenge is access to land and financing.”
Makhura announced the establishment of a unit dedicated to the sector within the provincial government, located in the department of agriculture and rural development.