Seeds for a better 2024 have been sown – President Ramaphosa

South Africa – Although South Africa continues to face challenges from various quarters, the ground work for a better 2024 has been laid .

This is according to President Cyril Ramaphosa who addressed the nation through his weekly newsletter .

The President acknowledged that 2023 has been a testing year for the country – with intense load shedding, Transnet’s challenges and a sluggish economy being just some of the worst challenges faced .

“Our economy has been weighed down by international events, including the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict and instability in the global economy .

Like many across the world, South Africans have faced a substantial rise in the cost of our living .

Our post-COVID recovery has been held back by continuing load shedding and inefficiency at our ports and railways .

“Yet, even in these circumstances, companies have continued to invest in our economy .

At the fifth South Africa Investment Conference earlier this year, we surpassed our target for new investment commitments over five years .

Our economy has grown, albeit too slowly and far below its potential .

The number of people in employment has returned to pre-COVID levels, but jobs are still not being created fast enough to reduce levels of our unemployment,” he said .

President Ramaphosa conceded that the electricity crisis is “currently the main threat to our country’s progress” .

However, the work of the Energy Action Plan – launched in July 2022 – is beginning to show results, “giving us greater confidence that we will bring load shedding to an end” .

“While we experienced some of the worst load shedding ever in the first few months of the year, there has been a measurable and steady decline in the severity of load shedding over the last few months .

“Although electricity supply is still not stable, as we experienced in the last few weeks, the overall trend is towards less severe load shedding .

Damaged units at the Kusile power station have been returned to service ahead of schedule and plant maintenance has received close attention .

“What gives us hope for even further improvements is the progress that has been made in bringing new electricity generation online .

Regulatory reforms we have initiated have enabled a massive increase in private investment in electricity generation, with over 12 000 MW of confirmed projects in development .

Following the introduction of tax incentives and financing mechanisms, the amount of installed rooftop solar has more than doubled to over 4 500 MW in the last year,” he said .

Tackling challenges
President Ramaphosa listed several interventions and measures that have been taken to address the country’s challenges including:

Government working closely with Transnet, industry and other social partners to relieve congestion at ports and increase the volumes of freight being carried on key rail corridors
Significant infrastructure projects in areas including social housing, road construction, rural bridges and dams which contribute to greater economic activity and provide much-needed infrastructure for economic growth and the needs of citizens
Undertaking reforms in other areas to improve the competitiveness of the economy in areas such as proceeding with the digital migration of broadcasting service to free up broadband spectrum and reduce the cost of data
The continuation of the special Social Relief of Distress grant introduced during COVID-19 which has kept millions of people out of poverty

On employment, President Ramaphosa said the Presidential Employment Stimulus has created work and livelihood opportunities for some 1 .

2 million people .

He added that breakthroughs have been made in combatting crime with governance improvements also recorded .

“The SAPS’ economic infrastructure task teams have made important breakthroughs and arrests for illegal mining, cash-in-transit hikes, cable theft, drug smuggling and similar crimes .

We have recruited and trained thousands of new police personnel to further strengthen the fight against crime .

“We are implementing legislation to build a more professional, ethical and capable public service .

There has been important progress in other areas, including towards the introduction of a National Health Insurance to ensure greater equity in the provision of health care,” he said .

The President said that while “times are still tough” much progress has been made but there is “still some way to go” .

“What is most important is that we have done much of the ground work needed to put our economy on a path of faster growth and job creation .

By working together, by staying the course, we have used the last year to lay the basis for a better 2024 .

“On Friday this week, we will mark a special public holiday to celebrate the historic victory of the Springboks in the Rugby World Cup .

Their victory, alongside many other achievements by South Africans on the global stage, is a reminder of our country’s tremendous strengths and the promise that it holds .

“Let us come together on Friday to remind ourselves of everything that we love about South Africa .

Let it be a day of hope, celebration and unity .

I wish all South Africans a safe, peaceful and restful festive season as we all prepare for a successful new year,” President Ramaphosa concluded .

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