01 Apr Blog Post: The State of the Expanded Public Works Programme
South Africa’s growth domestic product recorded its fourth-quarter growth of 1.2% in 2021, growing at 4.9% on average. Although this was an expansion of the economic growth, the economy was 1.4% smaller than before the Covid-19 pandemic. The shocks and stresses from the pandemic have been most felt in our cities, where the stagnant growth is also in part due to electricity cuts, protest action and violence taking place in South African cities. In the absence of a clear national industrialisation path that the country needs, the situation in cities is further exacerbated by the pressure placed on cities by population growth that exceeds the requisite supply of jobs.
The Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) remains one of the initiatives within a broader government strategy aimed at reducing poverty through the reduction of unemployment. The central principle of the EPWP is to utilize labour-intensive methods to optimise job opportunities. But as we’ve witnessed, finance emerged as the biggest industry in terms of GDP contribution, followed by personal services. Some of the complementary sectors to the EPWP’s objective (agriculture and construction) were the least contributing sectors to growth, despite the relative growth witnessed in the agricultural sector.