NASREC in Soweto has been labelled the ideal hub for Gauteng’s new information communication technology (ICT) initiative, Smart City, a multidisciplinary development designed to create sustainable economic activities and decrease the cost of ICT.
The project is a partnership between the national Department of Communication and the City of Joburg. It was announced by Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane in her state of the province address at the Gauteng legislature in Mamelodi, Tshwane.
In her speech, delivered on a rainy Monday, 20 February, Mokonyane highlighted some of the provincial achievements of the previous year and charted the way forward.
She said the G-link Project, aimed at making Gauteng a smart province through achieving 95 percent broadband coverage to narrow the digital divide, roll out egovernment services and grow the economy, was under way. The infrastructure will be rolled out between 2012 and 2014.
The full Gautrain link between Tshwane and Johannesburg, from Park Station in the inner city, would be up and running in March and the Bus Rapid Transit system will be expanded elsewhere in the province as part of its emerging intermodal, integrated public transport system.
“We are in the process of developing a long-term transport plan that will enable us to achieve this goal,” she said.
Announcing the province’s plans for the current fiscal year, Mokonyane said more than R500-million would be invested in the construction and maintenance of roads, including the upgrading of the R82 – the old Vereeniging Road – linking Johannesburg and Sedibeng, as well as William Nicol Drive.
The renaming of one of the province’s major thoroughfares, Albertina Sisulu Freeway, the R21, will be concluded with the promulgation of Commissioner Street in the inner city as part of the freeway.
The provincial government was working closely with the City and the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) to develop an intermodal public transport facility in Roodepoort in an effort to improve public transport infrastructure and revitalise the old CBD.
“Planning is under way and implementation will commence in the 2012/13 financial year.”
Mokonyane said the approach to the tolling of roads on the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project must be understood in the context of the overall development of an integrated public transport network. The province was conscious that a solution to the tolling issue should be sought to balance the considerations of affordability and impact on public transport.
“We have taken up this matter and we are working with the team convened by the minister of finance to find a sustainable solution to this matter,” she said.
To improve capacity for the testing and issuing of driving licences, a new testing centre would be opened in Kliptown, in Soweto, enabling more than 14 500 more people to be tested each month.
Mokonyane said education in the province was a major success story. Access to school had been improved vastly, with an overall enrolment ratio of 84 percent in primary schools and 83 percent in secondary schools by 2010. There was also an improvement in the percentage of learners who completed school, from 57 percent in 2008 to 75 percent in 2011.
More than 88 percent of public primary schools had at least one Grade R class. It was hoped that by 2014 all public primary schools would have Grade R. A further 500 new sites would be registered in the current fiscal year, and an additional 267 mobile classrooms would be procured to bring the total number of learners who have access to Grade R to 110 000.
The matric pass rate improved from 71,8 percent in 2009 to 81 percent last year. “Gauteng was the top-performing province in 2010 and second in 2011. The quality of basic education has improved.”
Mokonyane said progress had been made in bettering health care outcomes. Maternal mortality dropped from 168 per 100 000 mothers in 2009 to 144 per 100 000 mothers in 2010.
“A major public health breakthrough in reducing childhood mortality was achieved through the introduction of vaccines against rotavirus diarrhoea and against pneumococcal diseases. In Gauteng we achieved maximum coverage in this regard,” she explained.
Aids deaths were down from 38,5 percent in 2009 to 35 percent in 2011, a result of a massive roll-out of antiretroviral therapy. Gauteng had about 337 health facilities providing anti-retroviral treatment to over 500 000 people. She said the number of anti-retroviral therapy sites would be increased to 403.
“In the year ahead, we will implement a comprehensive turnaround strategy to improve efficiencies in the way we deliver public health services in Gauteng and institute measures to prevent a recurrence of the financial difficulties in health.”
The Zola Gateway Clinic in Jabulani was complete and Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital would be revitalised through a public-private partnership.
Mokonyane said job creation in the province was “on the increase” as evidenced in the 2011 Fourth Quarter Labour Force Survey, which showed Gauteng had a 4,1 percent increase in employment. This translated to the creation of about 132 000 new jobs.
“While this is not sufficient to address current unemployment levels, the upward trend is encouraging,” she said.
By the end of December 2011, the provincial government had exceeded its job creation targets, with 281 686 jobs created against a target of 229 904 jobs by the end of March 2012. Of these jobs, 5 629 were permanent, 40 898 temporary and 235 159 were jobs created through the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP).
On human settlements, Mokonyane said her administration had implemented about 14 mixed housing developments across the province, formalised 69 informal settlements and eradicated about 12. Over 26 000 serviced stands and about 51 000 subsidised houses had been delivered.
The province received no disclaimers from the auditor-general, nine unqualified audits and one clean audit. “The focus for the year ahead will be primarily on accelerating delivery with a strong emphasis on concrete deliverable programmes,” Mokonyane said.
Gauteng was positioning itself as a key freight and logistics hub.
Investment would be made to establish an Aerotropolis – an urban node comprising aviation-intensive businesses and related enterprises – around OR Tambo International Airport.
It was hoped that Aerotropolis would create a commercial facility around the airport where travellers could conduct business, eat, sleep, shop and be entertained without going more than 20 kilometres from the node. It aimed to attract aviation-linked businesses of all types, including manufacturing and distribution facilities, hotel, entertainment, retail, trade and exhibition and office buildings.
“The Aerotropolis project seeks to grow the Gauteng economy by improving the business environment linked to airports in the province through efficient supply lines and integrated socio-economic developments along this supply chain.”
The premier said the provincial government was working with the City to develop norms and standards for basic service delivery. This would enable the municipality to accelerate the roll out of water, sanitation, electricity and refuse removal.
“A bulk infrastructure plan is being developed to give an accurate sense of the infrastructure requirements at local government level,” she said.
Mokonyane said police statistics showed that murder in Gauteng had declined by 16 percent since 2007. Car and truck hijackings declined by 20,5 percent and 30 percent respectively; while residential and non-residential robberies dropped by 12,5 percent and 12,9 percent respectively between 2010 and 2011.
A Constitutional Hill Project was under way to preserve buildings of historical significance. The premier said restorative work on some of the buildings in the precinct was complete. “Discussions are under way to complete other phases of the project. There is a possibility of erecting the justice college within the precinct.”
The June 16 Memorial and Youth Centre in Soweto would be unveiled in the course of the year. It was aimed at recognising the contributions made by those who were in the struggle and at encouraging youth development.
The provincial government would commemorate the centenaries of Alexandra and Sophiatown, and would plant 100 indigenous trees in each of these areas. “We congratulate St Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Yeoville, which is also celebrating 100 years and which served as a sanctuary during our struggle years,” said Mokonyane.
The provincial government would launch the Gauteng Sport Challenge, a multi-code sporting festival aimed at celebrating the province’s sporting talent “as part of positioning Gauteng as the home of champions”.