More than two decades after the end of white minority rule, South Africa still has one of the highest unemployment rates among major global economies, with more than a quarter of its workforce unemployed.
In view this, South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa has announced a package of reforms, which would create more 275,000 jobs a year, to reduce the high rate of unemployment and improve the economy.
Ramaphosa, who took over from scandal-plagued Jacob Zuma in February, has made boosting job creation a cornerstone of his reform drive. But his efforts were dealt a blow last month when data showed the economy had fallen into recession for the first time in a decade.
Addressing a gathering of top officials, business leaders and trade unionist outside Johannesburg, Ramaphosa said unemployment is the greatest challenge facing the country.
“Extreme unemployment in this country is the product of an economy that for several decades has been starved of investment in its human capital where most people have been denied the opportunity to own assets”, he stated.
Ramaphosa said the measures unveiled include agreements by top public and private firms to boost local procurement and an export drive that would prioritise manufactured and processed goods.
The financial sector will invest 100 billion rand ($6.8 billion) over five years in black-owned industrial enterprises, and the country will aim to expand its horticultural trade from 54 billion rand to 90 billion rand by 2030, the president added.
International organisations including the World Bank have been calling for decisive action to address South Africa’s high levels of unemployment and inequality for many years.