14 December 2004
The European Union has unveiled a multi-million rand package to boost economic development in KwaZulu-Natal.
The six-year, R281-million package was announced by the European Union’s ambassador to South Africa, Michael Lake, at a function hosted by Finance and Economic Development MEC Zweli Mkhize in Durban on Friday.
The money will go towards development projects in four district municipalities in the province. Ugu on the south coast, Mkhanyakude on the north coast, and uThungulu and Mgungundlovu in the midlands will all benefit from the fund, that will be made available over a six-year period.
Lake said the EU was positive that the province would make full use of the fund, saying the success of the programme would “be based on individuals and groups deciding to accept the challenge and make a difference in the province”.
Lake added that the funding programme would lay the basis for expansion to other provinces.
“As the EU’s ties with South Africa grow ever closer, we want to share more than just our money with you – we also wish to share our own experiences of tackling our homegrown development problems”, he said.
Mkhize said the funding would have a positive impact, as the province was gearing itself for more growth and job-creation opportunities.
According to Mkhize, the funds will also go towards “Gijima KZN”, a programme designed to kick-start the economic development of district municipalities.
Through the Gijima KZN programme, the government aims to reduce unemployment by assisting households who earn less than R800 a month.
The programme will be grant-based, and will support projects that create employment, enterprise development and an enabling environment for economic development, the MEC said.
The first phase of the programme will be implemented in January 2005.