Steady growth potential

North West MEC for Economic Development, Environment, Conservation and Tourism Motlalepula Rosho says that despite the broad focus of her portfolio, she believes the province is starting to fulfill expectations, especially with regard to economic development.

This is being driven by a focus on establishing sustainable cooperatives and small businesses by adopting a new framework.

The strategy for cooperatives, for example, is based on diversifying their activities beyond the conventional production of home-based goods into higher value services such as producing protective clothing for the mining industry and diamond polishing.

Similarly, special finance support packages have been created to help small and medium enterprises achieve sustainability.

“What we are doing with the department of finance is to focus on local procurement because we want the SMMEs that we develop to benefit from the procurement process,” she explains.

The MEC has also been using the wide scope of her department to create economic links, such as exploring the beneficiation potential from game hunting activities to create new opportunities and industries.

One opportunity that holds some promise for the province’s development is the refurbishment of the Mafikeng airport, which could transform the capital city into a hub for transporting goods to economic centres such as Gauteng, as well as into neighbouring countries.

“We already have investors from overseas interested in this. It is not just the resuscitation of the airport. We want to play to the advantage of how we are positioned as an inland province — we are on the doorstep of Botswana, which is a gateway to Sadc and also the rest of the continent. So we will be looking at an industrial development zone-type setup and want to have duty-free zone to create an airport-city.”

This ties into the province’s plans for establishing a special economic zone around the platinum industry between Rustenburg and Brits that would focus on beneficiation and tourism opportunities.

“We are now starting to look at a regional integrated development strategy, but we have done our analysis and we know where the competitive advantages are,” she says.

This is a broad-ranging strategy taking in the province’s strengths in mining, tourism, agriculture and agro-processing.

“I think the North West, with time, will go far. We have potential investors in agriculture and even manufacturing. We have travelled the world to show people what we have,” Rosho says.

This article forms part of the supplement paid for by the North West office of the Premier. Contents and photographs were supplied and signed off by the ofiice