MEDIA RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE ATTENTION ECONOMIC GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT SUMMIT UNDERWAY
12 Mach 2020
The current economic headwinds facing Amathole District Municipality [ADM] have compelled the current leadership to look deeper into the socio-economic status of the district and accordingly devise a strategic reform to create an enabling environment towards economic growth and development. During the summit, held at East London ICC from 10-12 March 2020, the Acting Executive Mayor Cllr Zibuthe Mnqwazi’s welcoming address provided a highly anticipated stand especially with regards to the district’s position on the “historic and inherent exclusion of [ADM] people from any form of economic participation”.
“The current socio-economic profile of the district paints a rather less desired state of economic development….characterised by high levels of unemployment, rising levels of poverty and a general poor Human Development Index” – he affirmed and forwarded a progressive challenge to the attendees to find ways to respond to the question “how do we create sustainable wealth in order to achieve Vision 2058, (sic) a truly smart district?” “There is no doubt that this District has all the potential to be a hub for economic growth in the province. With the help of our Economic Development Agency, ASPIRE, we need to dedicate our time and resources in unlocking its true potential for all sectors and more especially Enterprise Development, Tourism & Heritage, Agriculture and ICT” – he said.
Facilitated by the Presidential 4IR Commissioner Lindiwe Mkhonza, the three-day summit is attended by over 300 delegates mainly from local and international including SMMEs under the theme “Sustainable Wealth Creation for Amathole District within the 4IR”.
Speaking on the first day was ADM Municipal Manager Dr Thandekile Mnyimba, outlined the municipality’s strategic outlook. Mnyimba brought the spotlight onto the district’s populace of 912 000 of which 580 000, he declared as still living in poverty with unemployment rate sitting at 37, 4%. It is from such indicators that he fervently advocated for a “different way of thinking”. The mind shift, he said, would take ADM to where it should be. This he said was “important to build a culture of excellence” coupled with, among other things, financial sustainability which powers the necessity to build a sound financial base to realize the service delivery goal of ADM.
In line with the summit he outlined the key game changers for the district and among them an Integrated Marine Precinct and Sea Water Desalination Plant, Revitalisation of Crop Plantation and Irrigation Schemes. While the former will focus on the future sustainability of water resource development and management, the latter seeks to ensure that the local entrepreneurship develops to grow the economy of the district through its six local municipalities. Mnyimba is confident that ADM has what it takes to rise from the current economic position and agrees with various economic research on key policy interventions which can boost not only local economy and business confidence but also attract investors to the district.
“In the near future we want to become a water conscious district with sufficient knowledge and skills in the water sector. This will require that we implement strong water governance with resilient stakeholder partnerships that advance the more explicit 2nd phase of the National Development Plan to achieve water security under climate change” he said, adding the futuristic outlook for the district as “a water-smart economy and a leader in Africa in commercializing low-water technologies for industry and agriculture”. Reflecting on the ADM future plans whilst connecting live to the conference through skype to address the gathering, the Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies, Ms Stella Ndabeni Abrahams commended the district for “taking it upon themselves to be prepared in the eventuality that when the next phase of the District Development Model arrives, they will have a clear plan of execution. I will have to indicate to the Minister of COGTA that Amathole is now a better candidate for the next phase” she said, whilst advancing the inclusion of communities in the digital revolution. This she based on StatsSA’s 2016 Community Survey which points out that more than 90% of the citizens within Amathole District Municipality do not have internet access “We know that access to the internet fuels the ability for any persons or community to participate meaningfully in the digital economy” added Ndabeni Abrahams. On this day, 11 March 2020, academic papers by scholars and administrators were presented with focus on leadership, human capital development, agriculture and poverty alleviation as well as sound financial management within the forth industrial revolution setting. ADM Economic Growth and Development Draft Strategy was discussed at length in a panel discussion led by Presidential 4IR Commissioners Prof Chris Adendorff and Lindiwe Mkhonza to ensure it encapsulates the 4IR agenda for South Africa. These papers alongside resolutions of the summit, will be made available on the www.amathole.gov.za website as soon as the summit concludes.
Today as the summit enters its third and final day, the SMMEs will be centre of the day. ADM is walking the talk by deliberately positioning itself to actively promote entrepreneurship between the district and potential stakeholders under various interests sections.
Various SMMEs have been showcasing their products in an effort to attract more business interest from short term potential buyers and long term funders.