THE Eastern Cape Provincial Government’s two-day extended Executive Committee (EXCO) Cabinet lekgotla, which included executive mayors of districts and metro municipalities to assess the progress on commitments made since the last financial year, has identified both achievements and challenges.
In a statement today, the EXCO indicated that while it had noted progress made in certain areas more work needed to be done in other areas of critical importance, the provincial economy, small business support measures, alternative energy, water, health and education.
The body indicated that as the province had vast natural endowments providing a unique comparative advantage in certain key sectors of its provincial economy, agriculture was aptly identified as a “game changer” and a potential food basket.
Financial and non-financial support to SMMEs and co operatives was seen as crucial to job creation for young and women entrepreneurs. As the Eastern Cape has the longest coastline (800km) with unspoiled environment, this could inspire business confidence in pursuit of growth opportunities in aqua culture, ship repairs, maintenance and other areas.
“The wild coast meander, state of rural access roads, bridges and provincial road networks as well as the sparsely dispersed character of the province provides huge opportunities for social and infrastructure roll out as well as the roll out of broad band connectivity to enable communication and movement of goods and services.”
The EXCO also noted the potential of the province as a source of alternative energy generation through solar, wind and hydro technologies. “With the largest number of rivers and dams, the province has a potential ability to manage and preserve its water resources for economic growth and industrialisation.”
The province’s vast tracts of land with its livestock, dams, rivers, tropical areas, natural plants as well as fauna and flora, had extended EXCO has committed to increase its capital injection in agriculture and food security with specific focus on youth and women. Other investments in the areas of fencing, feedlots, dipping tanks and any other agricultural related infrastructure are set to be encouraged. EXCO also committed to pursue strategic partnerships with relevant institutions of Higher Learning and TVET colleges.
The EXCO also committed to put more efforts in the roll-out of provincial access roads, as well as broad band connectivity to reduce the cost of doing business in the province while there was an indication that properly functioning municipal systems had to be underpinned by an effective implementation of the Back to Basics as the backbone of a growing economy.
The EXCO had endorsed the implementation of the critical elements of the seven (7) point Education transformation plan with focus on the under staffing in primary health care facilities of DOH (Department of Health) and a resolution that critical posts be filled urgently.