North West encouraged to use resources to revive economy post lockdown

Mining REUTERS - North West encouraged to use resources to revive economy post lockdown

The North West province has been urged to take advantage of its geographic location and its treasures to revive its economy.

The province convened a meeting this week in Sun City near Rustenburg to discuss ways on how it could recover from the losses incurred due to the nationwide lockdown.

The private sector has also committed to work hand in hand with government.

Key sectors under immense strain during lockdown

Mining remains the main economic driver in the North West province, with agriculture and tourism as other major contributors to the province’s gross domestic product (GDP).

All these sectors took a knock during the hard lockdown.

Jobs were lost while some businesses were closed down.

The province’s unemployment rate currently stands at an average of 28.3%.

Boyse Pillay of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research says their research has shown that more work will have to be done to recover the losses in some industries.

“The tourism sector, the retail sector and the transport sector have been severely impacted by COVID-19 and that has been due to the various lockdown levels, especially during lockdown level three, four and five.”

Using resources to an advantage

North West Premier Professor Job Mokgoro says the meeting sought to turn this around.

“We have identified comparative economic advantages in each of the districts and now we have decided to roll up our sleeves and on the basis of those advantages, we are growing the economy. We’re doing this with the greatest aggression that is required because people have lost jobs, people are hungry, people are anxious. People are uncertain with regard to their lives and with regard to the economy.”

The deputy minister for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Obed Bapela is of the opinion that the province must positively use its treasures and mineral deposits.

“They’ve got an airport called Mahikeng Airport, the longest landing strip in Africa. It’s just deserted and isolated and they need to revive it and bring back the license which was taken to Pilanesberg, which is not even a national airport back to Mahikeng and then take advantage of the gateway to Congo, Angola and Botswana using the airport or using the borders so that truck can take goods that are manufactured in the North West.”

The mining industry is slowly improving and this may prove positive for the province.

CEO of Impala Platinum Mark Munroe says: “The impact was significant and I think we as the industry were very fortunate that we were able to get back to full production and the prices have supported us as the industry. We’ve been fortunate in that respect,” says Munroe.

Role players say all have to roll up their sleeves and work towards changing things for the better and creating much needed jobs.

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