Occasion of the Business Gala Dinner

ADDRESS BY PREMIER OF THE NORTHERN CAPE, MS HAZEL JENKINS ON THE OCCASION OF THE BUSINESS GALA DINNER, DE AAR, 23 FEBRUARY 2010

I feel greatly honoured to be afforded this opportunity to speak at this landmark event in the Pixley Ka Seme District. This event will undoubtetly serve as significant platform for business networking and identifying opportunities for investment.

Some of the key priorities of our government over the next five years also includes: stimulating a faster growing economy and employment, development of skills, healthy and productive people, building safe and sustainable communities, deepening democracy and nation building, and building an effective and caring government.

Our programme is based on the commitments that we made during the election campaign to work together with our people in a people's contract to create work and fight poverty in the Northern Cape Province.

We made these commitments because we understood very well the challenges that faced our country and province as we entered the Year of Action as declared by President Jacob Zuma. We knew that we had to work hard to overcome the challenges of unemployment, lack of skills, poverty, homelessness, underdevelopment, illiteracy and disease and create business opportunities for our people.

Programme director I would like to take this opportunity to applaud Khula and SEDA for the collaborative role they are playing with the municipalities to identify and drive new economic initiatives which will stimulate growth and promote Small Medium and Micro Enterprises. We believe as a province that through co-operation and focused intervention, we can do more to deal with these challenges and ultimately increase the rate of our development impact.

We must continue to intensify the support and development of the Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMME’s) because they have the potential to serve as a catalyst for growth in emerging economies, create jobs and reduce unemployment.

The SMME’s will assist in accelerating our efforts of increasing the market share of small businesses across sectors, deal with challenges of access to finance, skills development and the development of co-operatives.

We are further keen to strengthen our relations with all institutions supporting SMMEs and where possible it is our desire to create additional ones with a view to increase the network that supply SMMEs.

The purpose of the financial institutions is to promote economic revitalization and community development through investment in and assistance to community development initiatives

We have the critical mission of expanding the capacity of these institutions to provide credit, capital, and financial services to underserved populations and economically distressed communities in the province as a whole.

Ladies and gentlemen, the establishment of a Women Development Fund in this District is a significant milestone and welcome initiative. We measure the development and success of any society by its ability how it responds to issues affecting all the sectors of its society especially women and the poor. Our life long icon, Mr Nelson Mandela said, "It should never be that the anger of the poor should be the finger of accusation pointed at all of us because we failed to respond to the cries of the people for food, for shelter, the dignity of the individual. No one can be at peace whilst others wall in poverty and insecurity. We cannot wait on the side and watch our people suffer."

Programme director, there are also province-wide initiatives that will be pursued, aimed at cushioning the Provincial economy against the global economic crisis, and these will include:

* Agriculture and Agro-processing initiatives rolled out through contract farming and manufacturing initiatives with land owners whose arable land is under-utilised. This will be done in partnership with the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, whose footprint across the province will be invaluable to reach remote parts of the province.
* The establishment of renewable energy initiatives, aimed at taking advantage of the global move away from fossil energy sources to green energy.
* vigorously pursuing initiatives aimed at primary manufacturing leveraging with our deliberate agenda of diversifying the provincial economy.

*The expansion and development of the tourism sector.

We must through our local economic development initiatives see how we link up to this provincial initiatives towards economic development which encourages local people to work together to achieve sustainable economic growth, bringing economic benefits and improved quality of life for all residents in a local municipal area.

Today we are on the threshold of a new era of recognition and action with regard to the centrality of gender equality and women’s empowerment to development.

Our liberation as a country has to be defined by the quality of freedom enjoyed by women in our beloved country. Together as a nation, we must uphold the perspective that none of us is free unless the women are free – from poverty and loss of dignity and free from fear and violence.”

Programme Director, as a caring and responsive Government, we have an obligation to create conducive environment for economic empowerment and consequently, total emancipation of women. Women have the responsibility to close ranks and organise each other to empower themselves – no one will actually do that for them. The heroic march by the gallant class of 1956 women has taught us that the freedom of women lies in their very own hands.

It is also fitting to be celebrating women’s entrepreneurship and economic empowerment because gender equality is integral to the vision of our government to mainstream the economic status of women.

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