Drought relief; Internet access key priorities for Western Cape in year ahead
Expanding access to affordable Internet and drought relief have emerged as key priorities for the Western Cape Government in the year ahead.
Alan Winde, Minister of Economic Opportunities, this morning (29 March 2017), delivered the budget speeches for the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Economic Development and Tourism.
Project Khulisa’s initiatives, aimed at strengthening the most competitive parts of our economy, namely tourism, oil and gas and agri-processing, are key objectives in the year ahead. There will be a focus on ensuring that small businesses are able to benefit from anticipated growth in these sectors.
"To boost Western Cape agri-processing, a fast growing sector which currently employs over 135 000 residents, we have put focused interventions in place to support emerging businesses in several competitive sub-segments, including in the Halal space. In 2017/18, we will invest R4 million to take local entrepreneurs through our Halal supplier development programme,” said Minister Winde.
In the oil and gas sector, DEDAT is working with the Saldanha Bay Industrial Development Zone (IDZ) Licensing Company to put together an enterprise development programme for local contractors, and a digital procurement portal which will enable small and emerging businesses to benefit from big international contracts landed here. It is set to go live in July.
Minister Winde said through our Emerging Business Support Programmes, 2 000 entrepreneurs have received the training they need to pursue their ambitions.
“In 2017/18, a further 1000 entrepreneurs will attend sessions across the province. We have been able to drive this programme over the past two years through our collaboration with the private sector, which shares in our commitment to growing entrepreneurs.”
To increase access to the new digital economy, the rollout of public Wi-Fi continues in the year ahead.
"Our Public Access Wi-Fi project with Neotel has seen the installation of 150 hotspots, with 250 new users signing up to the service each day. In the past year, 70 000 devices have connected to our public Wi-Fi hotspots. In 2017/18, a further 224 hotspots will be rolled out.”
Minister Winde said one of the biggest threats facing the economy was the impact of extreme weather events.
In 2017/18, R47 million will be set aside for drought relief, with a special focus on emerging entrepreneurs.
“In 2015, South Africa recorded its lowest rainfall in a calendar year since 1904. In the same year, the highest ever temperature recorded on earth, 48.3 degrees celsius, was measured at Vredendal. In the past two years, drought and high temperatures, as well as floods and hail, have led to significant losses in agriculture.”
Losses in the agriculture sector include:
- The loss of 200 000 tonnes of wheat due to insufficient rain during the 2015 winter;
- A 15 percent decrease in fruit production in 2015/16 worth an estimated loss of R750 million;
- The loss of 230 hectares of potatoes, which could not be planted due to the lack of water;
- In livestock, we estimate that in excess of 30 000 animals have been sold as farmers battle to feed their core herds;
- A decline of 5 percent in the wine grapes harvested during 2016 due to high temperatures and lack of irrigation water. In rand terms, this loss amounted to an estimated R500 million;
- As a further result of the water restrictions, our agricultural economists are projecting a R112 million decrease in GVA, and a possible drop of 1 728 in the number of available seasonal work opportunities
Our budget is aimed at equipping our farmers, especially emerging farmers, with the support they need to mitigate further losses.
Please see attached Minister Winde’s budget speeches.
Spokesperson: Alan Winde, Minister of Economic Opportunities
Responsible for Tourism, Economic Development and Agriculture
Western Cape Government
Physical Address: 142 Long Street, Cape Town
Tel: 021 483 3550
Cell: 060 970 4301