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Branding the title of the third largest city in KwaZulu-Natal, one would expect to find a flourishing business sector, driven by large sums of employment and career opportunities. However, as those living in Newcastle will attest, this is most certainly not the case.
On top of this, neighbouring towns, Utrecht and Dannhauser find themselves in a similar situation. The eMadlangeni (Utrecht) Municipality holds a 69.5% lower bound poverty population and 55% of the town lives in food poverty.
Similarly, Dannhauser Municipality sports the highest number of people living in poverty within the Amajuba District Municipality, with 71.7% of its community living in the lower bound poverty bracket and 55.5% enduring food poverty.
These troubling figures were revealed on Tuesday, 30 August 2022, by Sihlangu Ngobese, the Assistant Director for the Local Economic Development Unit of the Amajuba District Municipality.
With the insight reflecting figures as of 2021, carrying over into 2022, the message is clear, something needs to be done to restore the Amajuba District’s economic situation and it is going to be an “all hands on deck” scenario.
Getting the ball rolling, during a business engagement programme on Tuesday, at Blackrock Casino, Newcastle, Trade and Investment KwaZulu-Natal, in collaboration with the Amajuba District Municipality addressed a few key focal points to assist the towns.
This saw representatives from the government and business sector looking at solutions to the current situation within the area.
According to Ngobese, the population size in the Amajuba District stands at 573 549 people, with Newcastle sporting the largest number of people, with the figure standing at 422 667. This is followed by Dannhauser with 111 813 people, and Utrecht sporting the smallest population of the three towns, with 39 070.
Discussing this further, he noted that the situation in the Amajuba District was concerning. “The district has a high level of income inequality, and it is very high in Newcastle,” he said, adding that the high unemployment rate in the Amajuba District didn’t help the situation.
Additionally, Ngobese explained, “The district has a very high unemployment rate, which is higher than the provincial average.” (The provincial average stands at close to 30%).
According to Ngobese, the unemployment rate in Dannhauser is 55.08%, followed by Utrecht with 44.2% and Newcastle standing at 43.3%.
This, he explained, was extremely worrying and showcased the importance of doing more in terms of investment promotion and job creation.
With this in mind, Ngobese highlighted that a number of projects were now being looked at to ensure development within the district.
Projects that the Amajuba District Municipality is now looking into to revive the economy, include:
- Hemp/Cannabis Production
- Creating an Industrial Economic Hub (Clothing and Textile Hub)
- Waste Management/Recycling
- Renovation and diversifying of the tourism offerings at Balele Game Park in Utrecht
- Strict monitoring of social and labour plans
- Green Energy Development
- Industrial Park revitalisation programme
With many looking at ways to benefit the district, what are your thoughts? Are you positive about the above? If not, why?
Share your views in the comment section below.