President Jacob Zuma. Photo: Leon Nicholas.

Johannesburg - The new Saldanha Bay industrial development zone in the Western Cape is expected to create thousands of jobs, President Zuma said on Thursday.

“It is estimated that the creation of overall direct and indirect employment will be around 25,000 over a period of 20 years,” Zuma said in a speech prepared for delivery at the launch of the industrial zone.

“It is expected to generate around R62 billion in foreign exchange.”

Saldanha Bay is a natural harbour about 105km outside of Cape Town.

The industrial zone is aimed at boosting economic activity in Saldanha Bay and surrounding areas, mainly around the oil and gas industries.

It is one of 18 projects the Presidential Infrastructure Co-ordinating Commission (PICC) has identified across the country.

The PICC is chaired by Zuma and includes ministers, premiers and mayors.

Zuma said: “There is no doubt that if effectively implemented, the Saldanha Bay project will have major macro-economic benefits for both the region and the Western Cape province.”

Four other industrial development zones were designated in the ports of Coega near Port Elizabeth, East London, Richards Bay, and OR Tambo International Airport.

“The main objective of industrial development zones is to attract foreign direct investment, export value added products, and create jobs,” Zuma said.

Economic development MEC Alan Winde said the provincial government had invested R25 million into the project over a five-year period.

“This funding was utilised for the pre-feasibility study, the feasibility study, business planning and infrastructure,” Winde said in a statement.

The money was also used to establish the Saldanha Bay industrial development zone licensing company.

“This company, which has been set up as a subsidiary of Wesgro, the Western Cape's tourism, trade and investment promotion agency, will manage and operate the industrial zone.” - Sapa