‘Working Together, We Have Laid the Basis for a Better 2024″ – His Excellency Cyril Ramaphosa

By Fiona Wakelin 

In his letter to the nation, penned on 11th December, His Excellency Cyril Ramaphosa took the opportunity to review the successes as well as the challenges of 2023; the challenges include the impact on our economy of the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict and instability in the global economy as well as, locally, load shedding and inefficiency at our ports and railways. The good news is that companies have continued to invest in our economy. At the fifth South Africa Investment Conference earlier this year, the target was not only reached, but surpassed for new investment commitments over five years. And the economy has grown, although way below its potential, with the number of people in employment having returned to pre-COVID levels – yet jobs are still not being created fast enough to reduce levels of unemployment.

“While we continue to face a number of challenges, the electricity crisis is currently the main threat to our country’s progress. That is why I said in the State of the Nation Address in February that “our most immediate task is to dramatically reduce the severity of load shedding in the coming months and ultimately end load shedding altogether. The work that has been done since then in implementing the Energy Action Plan is showing positive 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,” – H.E. Ramaphosa

Further cause for optimism lies in the regulatory reforms which have enabled an 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. Concerning transport, logistics and infrastructure, government is working closely with Transnet to relieve congestion and several significant infrastructure projects in areas like social housing, road construction, rural bridges and dams are contributing to the growth of the economy.

“The Presidential Employment Stimulus has created work and livelihood opportunities for over 1.2- million people since its establishment. This has provided income, work experience and skills for many unemployed people. Over 4-million young people have registered on the SAYouth online platform to access work placement, training and other services. Through this platform more than 1-million young people have been able to access opportunities for learning and employment. There have been improvements in governance. For example, in her most recent report, Auditor-General Tsakani Maluleke says ‘we have seen some encouraging signs of improvement in the ability of national and provincial governments to transparently report on their finances and performance and to comply with key legislation’. 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,” – His Excellency.

Whilst times are not easy, President Ramaphosa highlighted the fact that important strides have been made over the past year to fix the problems in our economy and society and lay the basis for a better 2024. His Excellency concluded his last weekly newsletter for the year with the message: “I wish all South Africans a safe, peaceful and restful festive season as we all prepare for a successful new year.

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