Deputy Minister Nomalungelo Gina visited the Protea Leather Natal in Tongaat as part of the Siyahlola programme. Picture: GCIS
Deputy Minister Nomalungelo Gina visited the Protea Leather Natal in Tongaat as part of the Siyahlola programme. Picture: GCIS

Development to drive economic recovery

By Vernon Mchunu Time of article published Apr 21, 2021

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DURBAN - An estimated 2 200 construction jobs (temporary) have been created. These projects come at a time when there has been a sharp decline in the construction sector and an increase in unemployment globally Simangele Ngcobo

ABOUT R6.4 billion worth of investment plus 1 641 direct job opportunities have been generated in the fast-growing Dube Tradeport and the Richards Bay industrial zones, the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (DTIC) has said.

The two form part of the national Special Economic Zones (SEZs) Programme developed by the government to fast-track economic recovery.

While the Dube Tradeport had secured new investments to the tune of R600 million, with the resultant generation of 841 employment opportunities, the Richards Bay SEZ – through the construction of an edible oil factory and a titanium dioxide factory – amassed R5.8bn worth of private investment, resulting in the creation of about 800 projected direct jobs.

Deputy Minister Nomalungelo Gina said the value of operational investments across the country was expected to spike by almost R10bn during the current financial year due to business operations currently under development.

Starting in Richards Bay yesterday, Gina began a week-long inspection of the SEZs, industrial parks and publicfunded factories in KwaZulu-Natal as the government goes full steam ahead in the economic recovery trajectory.

In keeping with the national Siyahlola (monitoring) Programme, Gina said she would be assessing progress made in the implementation of the SEZs, the revitalisation of the Industrial Parks programme and the sector-specific master plans that were part of the re-imagined national industrial development strategy.

The inspection will include the

Richards Bay SEZ acting chief executive

Richards Bay SEZ, the KwaSithebe Industrial Park in Mandeni, Protea Leather Natal in Tongaat, the Clothing Factory, the Dube Tradeport, Planet Events, Neptune Boots in eThekwini, Bata Footwear in Estcourt and the Msinga Clothing Factory in Msinga.

The visits would reflect on the impact the government interventions were making on the country’s businesses in particular, and the economy at large, said Gina.

“The SEZ programme has managed to attract a significant number of investors. This has seen the value of operational investments increasing from R17.7 billion by the end of the third quarter of the 2019/20 financial year to R19.5 billion by the end of the third quarter of the 2020/21 financial year. This is a positive increase of R1.8 billion. During the same period, the number of investments have increased from 129 to 143,” said Gina, painting a national picture.

While the Tshwane Automotive SEZ was completing the construction of 12 factories with a private investment value of R4.33bn, resulting in more than 2 000 projected jobs, the Coega had signed four new investors worth about R49m with an estimated 101 new employment opportunities.

The Saldanha Bay SEZ was completing the construction of two manufacturing facilities with an investment value of R380m, generating 90 direct jobs, while the East London SEZ completed the construction of nine investor facilities and the expansion of three existing facilities, which will give birth to an additional 1 534 manufacturing and services jobs over the next two years.

As part of the economic recovery and reconstruction plan, South Africa was using the SEZs to reignite manufacturing-led industrialisation in an accelerated manner, she said.

“As the government, we are happy that although the programme is relatively new in SA (started in 2014), it has and continues to attract a significant number and value of investments in various regions. The rapid growth of SEZs continues to demonstrate the significant role played by the programme in the country,” she said.

“The purpose of the programme is to attract foreign and domestic investments, increase the number and value of exported products, accelerate the development of industrial infrastructure, help accelerate the beneficiation of the country’s resource endowments and create decent jobs,” she said.

“We will also use our interaction on the ground to learn about any challenges as well as identify opportunities the government can explore in order to deepen, improve or extend the implementation of the programmes. The successes and best practices that we observe during the visits will be taken into consideration and replicated in other parts of the country as the roll-out of our programmes continue,” she said.

“South Africa, like many other developed and emerging economies, recognises industrial development as a critical route to sustainable economic development, prosperity and success,” Gina said.

Richards Bay SEZ acting chief executive, Simangele Ngcobo, said the Siyahlola Programme would help strengthen efforts aimed at turning around the economic fortunes in the region in the face of devastation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The recorded progress evidenced by the development being made by the two catalyst investment projects being Wilmar Processing SA (Pty) Ltd and Nyanza Light Metals (Pty) Ltd, which are investing a combined private investment value of R5.8 billion, are expected to create approximately 800 direct jobs.

“An estimated 2 200 construction jobs (temporary) have been created. These projects come at a time when there has been a sharp decline in the construction sector and an increase in unemployment globally,” said Ngcobo.

“(The SEZ) remains a strategic asset that will help change the face of the province moving forward. We are determined to contribute towards the creation of employment, leveraging on the direct investments with different sectors of the economy being targeted to drive growth, spiralling skills transfer as well as value chain benefits to the people at large,” said Ngcobo.

THE MERCURY

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