The Hisense factory in Atlantis is one of the new projects of the Special Economic Zone. Picture: Jason Boud

Cape Town - As part of the rejuvenation of the historically disadvantaged suburb of Atlantis, a further R1 billion is expected to be ploughed into its Special Economic Zone (SEZ) over the next five years, particularly in the renewable energy sector.

Since the 2013 signing of a Memorandum of Funding Agreement between the Department of Trade and Industry (dti) and GreenCape, a special project management unit was set up to facilitate the establishment of a green technology SEZ in the West Coast area.

Read: Cape Town is Africa's green economic hub

Proposed power projects would see an additional R1bn in direct investment being pumped into Atlantis over the next five years, according to GreenCape chief executive Mike Mulcahy.

This work is a collaborative effort between GreenCape as the hosting agency, the City of Cape Town, the provincial government and the dti.

The proposed GreenTech SEZ supports the manufacturing sector to become suppliers and component manufacturers for clean technology, such as renewable energy components.

South Africa aims to generate 17 800MW of electricity from renewable resources by 2030. A significant share of the new electricity capacity is being developed and produced by independent power producers (IPPs) through the government’s renewable energy independent power producers programme (REIPPP).

Janine Myburgh, the Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s president, said expanding the green technology industry marks a turning point in Atlantis’s history.

“The area was established in the 1970s but never lived up to expectations until new opportunities were opened up by the development of the renewable energy industry.

“We now have one of the few growth industries in the country established in Atlantis and the chamber is confident it will continue to grow and transform the area. We would like to see more imaginative schemes like this one.”

The proposed SEZ has a particular focus on tapping into the attractive local opportunities created through this programme.

Mulcahy said at least 12 new industrial manufacturing facilities, capable of supplying utility scale projects have been established in the country in direct response to the REIPPP, with the establishment of two more large manufacturing concerns in the pipeline.

“Of these, eight are in the Western Cape. GreenCape has reported investments in Atlantis worth R680 million over the past three years and a further R1bn worth of new direct investment has been forecast for the next five years.”

He said after an initial investment of R300m by Spanish-owned firm, Gestamp Renewable Industries (GRI), the company

invested in a further expansion of its wind tower manufacturing facility.

The company has already supplied 35 of its towers to the Noupoort wind farm in the Northern Cape.

“The confidence in the Atlantis green tech hub is clear and expansion by Skyward windows and geotextile company, Kaytech, has added R50m and R130m respectively to investments in the region in the last financial year.

“The success of this initiative is a true reflection of what can happen when all three levels of government pull together.

“Looking past the successes of the past financial year, we believe a further R1bn investment over the next five years is not only achievable but a conservative effort.”

MEC of Economic Opportunities Alan Winde said energy security had been identified as the province’s most important strategic enabler.

“For an economy to thrive and attract investment, it must have stable, affordable power. In the Western Cape we have prioritised the development of clean energy sources. In this regard, the proposed Special Economic Zone in Atlantis stands to deliver a major job creation and investment boost.”

He said over the past five years investments of over R17bn have been made in renewable energy projects, R2.5bn last year, creating more than 2 000 jobs, and another 700 in component manufacturing.

Claire Noyes-Smith, marketing manager at Atlantis-based firm Hisense, said the company will look at expansion in the next few years.

“The company is growing rapidly and intends to increase our production at the Hisense factory, which means more investment on local skills transfer and, of course, in turn, job creation in the sector.”

She said the investment meant that companies like Hisense could give back to the Atlantis community, investing time in education and helping to uplift poor communities through job creation.

Mulcahy said more than 300 direct jobs had been created in Atlantis over the past two years, which had had a significant impact on the local community.

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