A province bursting with potential

“By 2030, the province of KwaZulu-Natal should have maximised its position as a gateway to South and Southern Africa, as well as its human and natural resources, so creating a safe, healthy and sustainable living environment. Abject poverty, inequality, unemployment and the current disease burden should be history, basic services must have reached all of its people, domestic and foreign investors are attracted by world class infrastructure and a skilled labour force. The people shall have options on where and how they opt to live, work and play, where the principle of putting people first and where leadership, partnership and prosperity in action has become a normal way of life.”

This is the vision for KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) as detailed in its Provincial Growth Development Plan (PGDP).

In February 2011 the Kwazulu-Natal Provincial Executive Council tasked the Provincial Planning Commission (PPC) with the formulation of the plan, which aims to bring the 2030 vision to fruition by:

• Creating jobs through developing and optimising opportunities in the various sectors of the KZN economy;

• Developing the skills of people in the province to ensure it is them who will benefit from the jobs the province hopes to create;

• Ensuring that the human and social environment is conducive to a healthy, safe and secure living environment for all people living in the province;

• Promoting the development of strategic infrastructure to support social, economic and environmental development in KZN;

• Ensuring that sustainable develop ment practices are adhered to at all times;

• Promoting good governance practices and policy alignment to support this growth and development trajectory for KZN; and

• Facilitating spatial equity to ensure that all geographic regions of the province receive attention and are optimally developed.

Thanks to the PGDP, significant strides have been made in bringing the province closer to realising this vision. That the Zulu Kingdom can achieve the vision in totality is not unconceivable. After all, it possesses largely untapped environmental resources, unparalleled scenic beauty, biodiversity as well as a unique multi-cultural heritage and enormous human potential.

KZN is strategically positioned on the eastern seaboard of South Africa on several world trade routes, providing easy access to major global markets like South America, Europe and the Far and Middle East. Its accessibility is enhanced by the fact that it is home to two of Africa’s busiest and largest ports — Durban and Richards Bay — both of which are constantly being upgraded, and within a few years it will also feature a third dig-out port at its old airport site.

It’s no surprise then that the province boasts the third highest export propensity and the second highest level of industrialisation in the country.

Additionally, KZN boasts South Africa’s second-largest economy. On average it contributes 16% (2013) to the country’s GDP.

It also has the highest export propensity as well as the highest level of industrialisation in South Africa. Its economy is based on a massive manufacturing sector that includes the paper and paper products industry, as well as ferroalloys (like aluminium) and other chemicals. Its main subsectors include motor vehicles and component manufacture, printing and publishing, food and beverage production, non-electrical machinery, iron and steel, wood furniture, and textiles and clothing.

Richards Bay is South Africa’s centre of aluminium industry operations — it produces over 4% of the world’s aluminium exports. Impressively, it is also home to the world’s largest sand mining and mineral-producing operations.

KwaZulu-Natal is also at the forefront of the country’s timber production. In fact, it processes over half of all the timber in the country, and accounts for a significant proportion of the country’s wood exports.

But those are not the only drawcards of the province. The tourism industry is also a key contributor to the KZN economy. The province’s tourist attractions are diverse and include coastal holiday areas, wildlife game parks, the Drakensberg Mountains and historical battlefields.

It’s all-year climate and rich mix of cultures and cuisine enhances its attractiveness in this regard. KZN is home to two recently declared world heritage sites — the Greater Lucia Wetlands Park and the Ukhahlamba/ Drakensberg Mountain Reserve.

With its numerous natural endowments and the detailed guidance of the PGDP, the province of KwaZulu-Natal is well on its way to realising its vision for 2030.