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                   ​​From the desk of
Deputy Minister Pinky Kekana ​​​​ ________________________________________________________________________________________________________

​African Youth and Women in Trade: Agriculture, Energy, and Wholesale and Retail conference

​​                      ​​24 May 2024​​

Ladies and Gentlemen

It gives me the greatest pleasure to address you on the eve of South Africa's 7th national democratic elections, with just 5 days left to go before we all cast our votes in what must be South Africa's hardest-won asset, our ballot box.​

 We have been ably led here to this moment in time, this 30th year of freedom and democracy sees South Africa being Africa's most industrialised nation, with our optimised trade sector and flourishing entrepreneurship being at the root of South Africa being the most powerful economy on the continent with a GDP of more than US$373bn.

 Entrepreneurship is a crucial engine driving the South African economy. In particular, the development and support of Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) is pivotal for economic rejuvenation and job creation.

 SMME's have proven to be the expression of South Africa's economic development over the last 30 years, so much so that the National Development Plan (NDP) 2030 has entrusted the SMME sector with the formidable task of generating 90% of new employment opportunities.

Despite it's fundamental role in our nation's economic growth, SMMEs in South Africa face a number of challenges that as policymakers we are aware of, and have invested in research and developmental programming to continuously deal with the challenges, like regulatory barriers, limited access to funding, and restricted market access continue to stifle SMME growth. Research indicates that over 70% of SMMEs in South Africa fail within the first five to seven years. It is therefore imperative that we, as policymakers, we continue to foster an enabling policy environment for our entrepreneurs, and none more so than ensuring our participation in Agreement of the AfCFTA.

President Ramaphosa officially launching South Africa's implementation  of the AfCFTA, is a significant milestone in advancing trade and expanding entrepreneurship opportunities and jobs in our country.

The AfCFTA, currently the largest free trade area in the world, unites 54 of Africa's 55 member states into a single, continental market representing a population of more than 1.3 billion Africans, heralding an explosive new era in Africa's economic growth and development.

This unparalleled market expansion is anticipated to catalyse a surge in intra-Africa trade, enabling local enterprises to tap into new market opportunities, extending their operations across borders, attract investments, and boost their revenue streams.

With the very recent adoption of the AfCFTA Protocol on Women and Youth In Trade, by Heads of State at the African Union's annual Heads of State Assembly, the AfCFTA provides immense potential for our youth and women, through opening up market access for South African women and youth entrepreneurs and relevantly owned enterprises.

The AfCFTA is not a silver bullet, but it is expected to increase intra-African trade by 52.3% in the medium term, deepen continental integration, increase productivity, create more jobs, and avail substantial gender-balanced opportunities by including women and youth in Africa's trade liberalisation.

It is therefore paramount for agriculturally rich provinces like Limpopo to leverage the benefits offered by the AfCFTA, which are far too many to mention.

South Africa takes immense pride in being the first among the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) countries to initiate trading under the AfCFTA. This achievement resonates deeply as we commemorate 30 years of democracy. South Africa's active role in the AfCFTA not just represents a proud moment but it reinforces the strategic intent of our democratic journey.

By embracing regional trade integration, South Africa not only reaps the benefits of leveraging our status of being the continent's most industrialised nation, but we in turn contribute to Africa's economic transformation and prosperity.

 Industrial development plays a pivotal role in Africa's journey toward greater integration and economic transformation. This is aligned to an intervention that I have personally been leading in the Nkowankowa Industrial Park.

As you may be aware, Industrial Parks have the potential to play a significant role in boosting the township economy by providing access to markets, infrastructure, and business support services.

Industrial Parks offer diverse opportunities for large scale development, addressing socio-economic challenges and realising the country's reindustrialisation agenda. Together with the DPME team, I have been coordinating a series of interventions at the Nkowankowa Industrial Park to unlock investment opportunities, create and retain jobs, and enhance the economic impact of the Industrial Park.

This is part of the ongoing Industrial Park reforms that the government, through the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition has embarked on.

In our ongoing efforts to alleviate constraints at the Nkowankowa Industrial Park, we have implemented a series of interventions. These include an electricity upgrade for Peppadew International, the park's largest investor, which was a critical factor in the expansion.

We have also unlocked funds to refurbish identified factories, facilitating the expansion of key investors in the park. Additionally, we have initiated upgrades to the water infrastructure to address the challenges within the industrial park. I am pleased to report that these interventions at the Nkowankowa Industrial Park are already yielding positive results:

  • We have ensured a reliable power supply for Peppadew International, significantly enhancing their operational environment
  • Two of their factories have undergone substantial upgrades, leading to an increase in production capacity
  • These strategic interventions have enabled Peppadew International to successfully expand its operations, unlocking over 6,000 new job opportunities
  • Furthermore, Peppadew is currently in the process of collaborating with local B-BBEE growers. This presents an exciting opportunity for local entrepreneurs in the agricultural sector to explore potential growth opportunities
  • Through our interventions at the Nkowankowa Industrial Park, we are currently in the process of upgrading the water infrastructure. This will improve the business conditions for the firms operating in the industrial park, thus enhancing their competitiveness and creating more growth opportunities.

In closing, as we strive to foster an environment that encourages growth, innovation, and collaboration, let us continue working together to build a prosperous South Africa.  I invite you to join hands as we shape a brighter future, a future where democracy, entrepreneurship, and trade intersect to uplift our nation.

I thank you


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