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Executive Summary of Premier’s speech at Department of the Premier 2024 budget

Premier Alan Winde delivered his budget vote speech for the Department of the Premier.

Below is an executive summary of his address:

It is my privilege to table the Department of the Premier’s 2024 budget, a critical component of our government’s collective efforts to keep building a province where all our residents can thrive in dignity.

Deepening dignity underpins all we do. It is the foundation of our government’s pledges and priorities.

Angela Merkel once said, “When it comes to human dignity, we cannot make compromises.” And so, we will not compromise on our work to restore dignity to our citizens, especially those most in need and to keep instilling dignity in all we do for the people of our province.

Dignity is about being able to walk in your neighbourhood without fear of being gunned down in a gang shooting. Dignity is about having a job to provide for your family. Dignity must be offered through a healthcare system that is responsive and caring. Dignity means being able to send your children to school knowing they will receive a quality education that prepares them to become economically active citizens who can add to our shared success.

We are taking the Western Cape further into the digital age. Our digital and technological capabilities are an extension of the services we offer. We are further empowering and enabling our citizens, preparing them for the future.  Innovation is a core value of our Government.

The Western Cape Government has rolled out 1 600 public Wi-Fi hotspots across the province with 6 GB of free data per device offered to citizens. Since 2019, the Western Cape Government has launched more than 70 computer and internet centres. Our WCG eCentres have become as much part of neighbourhoods as your local spaza shop, eating spot, school or clinic. And residents are fully utilising these resources! More than two million sessions were logged at our eCentres between 2019 and 2024.

At our eCentres, young people can use the Internet to search for jobs. They are assisted by trained staff to draw up CVs. They can then email their CVs to prospective employers and can print copies – all for free. Soon we will be able to take our services on the road, literally. In the coming days, we will be launching our new mobile eCentre bus, which will bring our services closer to citizens in far-flung, rural communities.

We should not only teach technology but also embrace it, specifically the likes of Artificial Intelligence (AI). We cannot avoid AI. To ignore its benefits and manage its complexities would be tantamount to ignoring reality and the demands and needs of our fast-growing economy and province.

The Department of the Premier’s main budget for the 2024/25 financial year is R2.008 billion. Compared with the 2023/24 Adjusted Budget, the overall budget decrease is 1,78%, which is mainly due reduced allocations for Broadband, given anticipated efficiencies to be attained with the upcoming contract, referred to as Broadband 2.0.

Despite a constrained fiscal environment, we are turning over every Rand in the service of our citizens. Our department is investing in the following interventions that will be either initiated or upscaled for greater impact:

  • Consolidating the Broadband 1.0 service and finalising procurement of the Broadband 2.0 service and transitioning between the contracts with minimal disruption to network services.  The Department connects and provides ICT services to more than 28,000 Corporate and Health users as well as connectivity to close to 1.2m learners in schools;
  • Developing a policy guideline and roadmap for the utilisation of AI technologies in the WCG;
  • Strengthening our cyber security measures;
  • Consolidating and enhancing the new Digital Experience platform (DXP) to replace the current WCG Portal;
  • Expanding and optimising our Cloud services; and
  • Continuing to enable, implement and support Digital Transformation Plan (DTP) initiatives.

This is a government that encourages friendly competition, whether it is among departments, our employees or municipalities. A healthy sense of competition leads to innovation as well as self-reflection. We must constantly assess how we are faring and we must always strive to do better. To keep us at the WCG on our toes, we strongly believe in ongoing training and education. I am, therefore, happy to report that the reconfiguration of the Provincial Training Institute to become an innovation hub with a refreshed curriculum is progressing well. This reconfiguration process will enable greater collaboration with partners and stakeholders.

Our province and country are still plagued by the energy crisis. For over 15 years relentless load shedding has severely hampered our growth potential. Our economy continues to bleed tens of millions of Rand every day while rolling power cuts remain a disastrous reality. Since load shedding started, we have lost between R49 billion and R61 billion in real GDP and counting. We are tackling this crisis with the urgency it deserves, going beyond our mandate to add more megawatts to our power system.

Over the current Medium Term Expenditure Framework, the Department of the Premier is ploughing R103.4 million to help respond to the energy crisis. The Western Cape Energy Resilience programme, driven by the Energy Council, remains focused on the following interventions:

  • A Demand Side Management Programme – this programme will focus on supporting municipalities to design and implement demand side management measures at scale, communication campaigns to remind and help the public understand how and why they need to save electricity, promote the use of energy-efficient products and services by government, citizens and businesses, and pilot a load management system to assist in managing power use during peak hours.
  • Emergency relief – 96 000 emergency load shedding relief packs will be provided to indigent households, with the next phase of this initiative focusing on school learners in quintiles 1-3. Around 4 000 have already been handed out to Western Cape Department of Social Development-funded facilities, such as GBV shelters.
  • Municipal Pooled Buying – to continue with further due diligence of establishing a market operator mechanism to enable municipalities to make an in-principle decision to warrant the formal establishment of a facility. The facility would be aimed at reducing the risks and costs of renewable energy independent power producer (IPP) procurement.
  • The development of a Western Cape Integrated Resource Plan aimed at providing the evidence base to guide the WCG and municipalities on strategic priorities, the optimal energy mix, targets, energy infrastructure development, potential private sector generation (wheeling), and potential and optimal price paths for different energy provision scenarios. In this regard, an international partner, USAID, has come on board to co-fund this initiative.
  • Resourcing our Core Energy Team to coordinate and manage all the initiatives of our Energy Resilience Programme, including sourcing specialist skills.

In conclusion, I am deeply humbled and honoured to serve our citizens. Everything we do is to offer you, the residents of this region, an environment where your dignity is upheld and protected to enable you to unlock your potential and become part of the success story that is the Western Cape. It is through our residents that we can sustain

the upward trajectory of our economy. Our encouraging economic growth is the product of a government that works tirelessly with its citizens and partners, in the service of the citizens of our province.

To our WCG family, all 90 000 of you are invaluable! You are our government’s heart and soul. Thank you for all you do for our more than seven million residents. To our partners, here and abroad, we remain committed to furthering and strengthening our relationships. Finally, I would like to thank the Director-General of our government, our colleagues in the Department of the Premier, who work hard and sacrifice so much to serve our citizens.

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