Address by the KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Economic Development and Tourism the Honourable Michael Mabuyakhulu on the occasion of the First National Bank (FNB) KZN Top Business Portfolio Awards
31 July 2009
The Premier of the Province of KwaZulu-Natal, Dr Zweli Mkhize
The Deputy Mayor of the eThekwini Municipality, Councillor Logie Naidoo
The CEO of FNB Public Sector Banking; Ms Elizabeth Maepa
Ladies and gentlemen
All protocol observed
We wish to express our profound gratitude at being invited to be part of tonight's special occasion, which is a celebration of KwaZulu-Natal's achievements in the business arena over the past year.
We feel delighted that tonight we are part of an event which does not only honour those who set the bar, but which encourages all of us to always strive for the best and to constantly push the boundaries of excellence. In our midst tonight, are men and women who will be rewarded for their efforts to be trail blazers and path finders in the business sphere in the province of KwaZulu-Natal.
Programme director, the new provincial government which was sworn in on 9 May 2009, faces big challenges and many opportunities. Whatever happens anywhere in the world positive or negative affects the turnout of events elsewhere in the world.
Our country in general and KwaZulu-Natal in particular, which are both part of the global community, are no exception. As all of us are aware, the biggest challenge facing the world as we speak is the issue of the global economic turmoil. While South Africa has to a greater extent, been able to shield itself from the ravaging impact of this biggest economic storm of our age, the spill-over effects have hit our country after it emerged recently that we are officially in a recession.
Programme director, when you face a crisis as dire as this, you can either wallow in self-pity or pick yourself up by your bootstraps and do something to change your life. We are fortunate that in this country we have a calibre of leadership that sees opportunities where others see challenges. Just yesterday, programme director, our Department of Economic Development and Tourism presented our budget policy speech to the provincial parliament where we outlined a number of measures aimed at cushioning our economy from the effects of the global economic slump and also putting it again on a growth trajectory.
Chief among these, programme director, is to ensure that we stimulate the first economy by putting in place instruments to attract investors. Given the current intense competition for the scarce investment resources, it is important that the province of KwaZulu-Natal should develop innovative strategies to attract foreign direct investment. In this regard, we will be presenting an investment map to the province which has bankable projects in line with our six primary corridors.
We also believe that our strategic location of being in a province with two busiest ports and a modern multi-modal transportation system should make us the investment destination of choice. It is against this backdrop that we want to intensify our efforts to woo companies which already have businesses in the province to use KwaZulu-Natal as their headquarters. But, more importantly, we also want to create linkages between the first and second economy by ensuring that we use among other instruments, co-operatives as a tool to help our people to play an active role in the economy. Our approach to the implementation of the co-operatives programme has been given a major facelift characterised by our deliberate emphasis on sectoral co-operatives as opposed to omnibus co-operatives. Also, we are creating mechanisms to ensure that those who have benefited from the co-operatives are given necessary capacity to stand on their own, thereby creating space for new cooperatives to be established, grow and become fully-fledged, independent business entities.
Programme director, tourism remains one of the biggest growth sectors the world over. We believe that with the FIFA 2010 Soccer World Cup around the corner, the sporting extravaganza presents an opportunity of a lifetime for us to market the province as the tourism destination of choice. One of our primary goals is to divide our tourism products for all segments from the lower end up to the upper end of the market. We have a vision of tourism being a catalyst for economic transformation in the province of KwaZulu-Natal.
Indeed, programme director; we believe that KwaZulu-Natal has a lot to celebrate in spite of the global economic contraction. Our province is experiencing the biggest investment in infrastructure programmes in its history. The projects under way for the 2010 FIFA World Cup have served as the main catalysts for the development of transport infrastructure in the province and have integrated road, rail, air and marine in an effort to boost economic growth in KwaZulu-Natal, especially as the region is still wracked by poverty and high levels of unemployment.
An important project that has gained momentum ahead of the World Cup is the new King Shaka International Airport, which will offer direct long-haul international flights to and from the city, with the adjacent Dube Trade Port and have the potential to grow tourism and boost many other economic sectors especially those which are time sensitive. We are pleased to announce that the airport has already secured the Dubai to Durban flight from the Emirates which starts operating on the 1st of October 2009.
This is a sign of things to come and we have no doubt that our investment in the Dube Trade Port is beginning to pay dividends. Programme director, we understand that, particularly during these difficult economic times, our people, specifically the poor, have legitimate expectations of our government to extricate them from the mire of poverty.
That is why it is of critical importance to grow the economy because, if we achieve that objective, then our chances of bettering our people's lives will improve significantly. We believe that, as a province, we have the possibility for growth in all sectors. We have no doubt that the growing co-operation and partnership between the government and our partners in the private sector, will eventually make KwaZulu-Natal the number one contributor to South Africa's Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
It is because of this reason that we are delighted to have a provincial publication, the KwaZulu-Natal top business portfolio which highlights the many success stories that are evident in the organisations and businesses operating in the province. As the Department of Economic Development and Tourism, we believe that we need to recognise excellence in business in order to make it not just the exception but a manner of doing things. Conrad Hilton who founded the international chain of hotels, which bear his name once said, "Success seems to be connected with action. Successful people keep moving. They make mistakes, but they don't quit."
Congratulations to all those businesses that are featured in the portfolio, they are moving and we hope that they will continue to succeed in KwaZulu-Natal. In light of today's economic slowdown, it is imperative that the successful people, organisations and businesses featured in the KwaZulu-Natal top business as well as the many others that operate in the province do not slow down but continue to take action so that the economy may once more gain momentum.
Congratulations also to the FNB KwaZulu-Natal top business award finalists and winners who will be announced later this evening. May your accolades by an inspiration to your peers, well done to the team of the top business portfolio in compiling this 11 edition of the KwaZulu-Natal Top Business Portfolio, may success breed success.