Picture: (left to right) Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the People's
Republic of China to the Republic of South Africa, H.E. Ambassador Songtian LIN and CDC’s
Chief Executive, discussing cooperation agreement between China and CDC. Supplied.
Picture: (left to right) Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the People's Republic of China to the Republic of South Africa, H.E. Ambassador Songtian LIN and CDC’s Chief Executive, discussing cooperation agreement between China and CDC. Supplied.
Picture: Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the People's
Republic of China to the Republic of South Africa, H.E. Ambassador Songtian LIN. Supplied.
Picture: Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the People's Republic of China to the Republic of South Africa, H.E. Ambassador Songtian LIN. Supplied.

CAPE TOWN - The Coega Special Economic Zone (SEZ) has been hailed as the best SEZ in the African Continent. 

This declaration was made by the The People’s Republic of China Ambassador to South Africa, Lin Songtian. 

Songtian, arrived in South Africa on August 9. His visit to the country follows his pledge to improve working relations between South Africa and his native country, China. 

Notably, the Coega Development Corporation (CDC) hosted the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, His Excellency Songtian LIN on his visit to the Eastern Cape Province. Coega's achievements such as the number of operational investors which currently stands at 40, were well acknowledged. 

The Coega SEZ is "by far the most successful SEZ in the African Continent", said Songtian. This commentary follows a similar praise by the Vice President of the People’s Republic of China, Dr LI Yuanchao in 2016. 

Picture: Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the People's Republic of China to the Republic of South Africa, H.E. Ambassador Songtian LIN. Supplied.

“I’ve been to many developing countries and industrial development zones, and the Coega SEZ is by far the best of them all", said Yuanchao. The Ambassador added that Coega SEZ is a good case study for Africa and the world to learn from in terms of development and operation of a SEZ. 

Positive outlook

The CDC mid-year investment performance report released last week shows that 8 new investors have been signed, despite the target being 3. This exceeds the mid-year performance target by 167%. 

Likewise, CDC signed 16 new investors last year, exceeding its annual target by 129%. The total investment contribution by 16 new investors signed last year was R11, 685 billion. 

This investment contributed approximately  0.23% to the Province Gross Value added (GVA). All in all, the CDC attracted 77 new investors over the last 6 years which contributed a combined investment value of R47,7 billion. 

China and South Africa

Ambassador Lin says that the Coega SEZ is ready to take advantage of the increase in Foreign Direct Investment into Africa. This follows the already positive outlook with South Africa remaining the leading foreign direct investment (FDI) destination in Africa. According to financial services advisory firm EY’s latest ‘Africa Attractiveness’ report, Africa had a 6.9% increase in FDI projects. 

South Africa maintains its top ranking as a destination for projects with 139 projects in 2016 compared to 130 in 2015; followed by Morocco (81) and Egypt (79).  

READ: GALLERY: View the list of Special Economic Zones in SA

Development 

The Coega SEZ focused on development of the SEZ's infrastructure since 1999. 

The road and rail infrastructure connects the Coega SEZ with Northern Cape, Gauteng and other provinces. The Coega SEZ is purpose-built which is integrated into the deep water port of Ngqura. 

Notably, the most outstanding initiative of the Coega SEZ for Ambassador Lin was the skills development centre. The centre trains young people from Motherwell, Wells Estate, New Brighton and the surrounding areas in carpentry, plumbing, welding, painting and brick-laying to name a few.

Employment 

Significantly, a job seekers portal, Gateway-to-Opportunities is a gateway for employment on Coega's projects. There are 7243 currently employed at Coega, of which more than 85% have been sourced from the local communities. 

Coega is the largest employer in the Metro. Additionally, the Coega SEZ has been awarded the Top Employer Certification by the Top Employers Institute.

China and South Africa relations

“The South African government continues to create an enabling environment for Chinese investors", says Charles Manuel, Economic Minister-Counsellor of South African Embassy, Beijing. 

“The South African Embassy in China works very well with Investors and welcomes companies to address any challenges with the Embassy to jointly find solutions and resolve them amicably", said Manuel. An important element of investor confidence and stability is the diligent implementation of laws, regulations and contractual obligations to ensure win-win cooperation,” concludes Mr Manuel. 

Ambassador Lin welcomes good cooperation between the CDC and the Chinese Embassy in promoting investment opportunities at Coega.

”Well done Coega", congratulates Ambassador Lin. 

READ ALSO: Ipsa ready to rescue Coega plan

- BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE