Jacob Zuma. [image:Bloomberg]

President Jacob Zuma said infrastructure development is crucial to industrialising the economy and creating employment during turbulent times during his annual address to the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) yesterday. This at the back of Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) announcing a slight recovery of the economy after it contracted by 1.3% in the second quarter.

He went on to concede that government and all sectors have had to navigate the country’s economy through a difficult global environment.

“The release of the GDP [Gross Domestic Product] figures shows the challenges faced by slowing global demand on the mining sector as well as the effects of the drought on agricultural output.”

“The manufacturing sector grew robustly and together with growth in other sectors, helped to ensure a GDP quarterly growth of 0.7%. The economy had contracted by 1.3% in the second quarter of this year. We have therefore avoided a recession in the economy, though, we still need to boost the rate of growth.”

“Infrastructure development is critical for both the industrialisation and to boost employment in construction and other sectors, especially during such a difficult time,” he continued.

Zuma said government was now investing roughly R1bn per working day in new infrastructure, with a focus on the areas he outlined in the nine-point plan during his State of the Nation Address in February.

He was quick to point out that the power supply has stabilised over the past three months.  

“I opened the first unit of the Medupi power station to come onto the grid in August this year. The Presidential Infrastructure Coordination Commission (PICC) has tracked the supply of renewable energy.”

“About 2,000MW of energy is now available for consumption, all of which has assisted in avoiding load shedding.”

“However, we still need to speed up existing build programmes to develop the reserves of energy needed to ensure that maintenance and outage challenges in our power plants do not negatively affect the economy and our people,” said Zuma.