Ramaphosa says South Africa needs fundamental change to deal with economic hardship

CAPE TOWN, Feb 10 (Reuters) – South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Thursday his country needed fundamental change to revive economic growth and tackle entrenched poverty, inequality and unemployment which have been worsening by chronic power outages and COVID-19.

Addressing the many problems that have plagued Africa’s most industrialized nation over the past decade in his state of the nation address, Ramaphosa singled out its unreliable power supply as one of the most glaring threats to long-term prosperity.

Ramaphosa said there was a need to address the immediate crisis triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, but also to create conditions for sustainable development. He added that his other goals for 2022 included tackling covid-19, rolling out infrastructure, increasing local production and creating jobs.

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“The current situation of deep poverty, unemployment and inequality in which we find ourselves is unacceptable,” he said, pledging to prioritize improving South Africa’s productive capacity. .

“Fundamental reforms are needed to revive economic growth in our country.”

South Africa will launch the public auction of high-frequency digital spectrum in a month, aimed at expanding access to fast internet services which remain expensive for the majority of the population, the president said.

One promising sector he highlighted is cannabis, adding that the government is keen to grow its nascent domestic cannabis industry as it seeks to tap into global demand and expand local production and exports, which he says will could create 130,000 jobs.

“We are streamlining the regulatory process so that hemp and cannabis can thrive like in other countries,” he said.

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Reporting by Alexander Winning, Emma Rumney and Wendell Roelf Writing by Tim Cocks Editing by James Macharia Chege

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