There are several projects in the pipeline at the Coega Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in various sectors, including logistics, agro-processing, chemical, and general manufacturing clusters, Coega Development Corporation management said last week in an interview.
This as the Coega SEZ recently hit the 120 000 jobs milestone since inception in 1999 with 15 222 jobs created in the last financial year as it counts on bigger opportunities rolling in with the announcement of the global carmaker Stellantis’s R3 billion coming on stream in 2026.
Coega said in an interview last week with Business Report it also anticipated to benefit from the African Continental Free Trade Area, which aims to create a single market for goods and services across Africa.
In the first quarter of this financial year, 2023/24, Coega signed four new investors with an investment value of R385 million.
In the 2022/23 financial year, Coega attracted nine additional investors with a combined investment value of more than R1.2 billion and last week announced Stellantis’s investment planned to be operational in 2026, creating 600 operational jobs and more than 2 100 during the construction phase.
The Coega Development Corporation also operates the 216ha automotive supplier park servicing various original equipment manufacturers in the country, including Benteler Automotive, which recently celebrated their 9000m2 expansion investment of R500m, which has added 50 operational jobs.
Coega said the Stellantis investment would increase the attractiveness and competitiveness of the Coega SEZ as an automotive investment destination of choice, as it already hosted several global and regional brands in the sector.
“The Stellantis investment will impact the GDP (gross domestic product) of the province (Eastern Cape) by about R577 million and further stimulate the growth and diversification of the local automotive value chain, as South Africa offers various incentives and benefits to investors, such as reduced corporate tax, duty-free imports, VAT exemptions, and infrastructure support,“ Coega said.
Coega SEZ is home to 58 operational investors in diverse sectors, as of March 2023, according to figures audited by the Auditor-General of South Africa, about 31% of these being foreign direct investment, with the balance being domestic, and investors ranging from small, medium and minor enterprises to large global exporters.
A Coega SEZ Census Report prepared by Statistics South Africa, which measured the economic activities of investors in the SEZ for the financial year from July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021 and pinned down on income, employment, capital expenditure, and value of imports and exports in the SEZ, revealed that investors made R14.3bn income in the period under review.
The 15 222 total jobs in the 2022/2023 financial year comprised 5 844 construction jobs and 9378 accumulative operational jobs in both the Coega SEZ and the Nelson Mandela Bay Logistics Park (NMBLP), both operated by the Coega Development Corporation.
Production jobs made up 38.4% of these jobs, while operational jobs made up the larger portion of 61.6%.
Coega said it had five primary sectors, making up 92% of the jobs, include agro-processing at 28%, automotive at 25%, logistics at 17%, business processing outsourcing at 16%, and metals at 6%.
“Although it may be tempting to focus on blue chip brands, Coega shines a light on local success stories, such as the Dairy Group, Dynamic Commodities, Corroseal and Mhlobiso Concrete. The Coega SEZ is also home to China’s BAIC and FAW Trucks, the likes of Discovery, which employs approximately 1000 contact centre operators,” Coega said.
As a means to maximise local opportunities wherever possible Coega said it had among other tools a job seeker database called the Gateway to Opportunity (www.g2o.co.za) portal, which offered a prepared pool of labour as opportunities arose.
To mitigate load shedding, a location in the Coega SEZ, it provided exemption from load shedding up to Stage four as well as a 24-hour load-curtailment agreement with the local Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality, allowing for further flexibility in industry operations.
The Coega Development Corporation has also recently received approval on the Coega SEZ Energy Strategy, which includes the identification of opportunities for solar rooftop power generation through the Coega Solar Rooftop Project; the development of a solar farm in the Coega SEZ as well as a farm in the NMBLP.
The Coega Solar Rooftop Project, currently in its first phase of roll-out on the SEZ, is accelerating Coega’s vision of greening its SEZ and NMBLP buildings.
Other large projects are in the pipeline for development, include the Hive Hydrogen R105BN investment announced at the South African Investment Conference as well as more development expected in the energy space, as Coega is identified as gas hub, with gas-to-power projects under way.