Picture: BMW SA.

Pretoria - Tshwane Mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa on Tuesday paid tribute to the automotive sector for driving the capital city's economy during the current challenging global economic conditions.

“I assume all of us have seen in the recent months investments made in the automotive sector of the our economy which currently accounts for over 40 percent of automotive exports for South Africa and 10 percent of total export of the country,” Ramokgopa told delegates in his opening speech at the Tshwane International Trade and Infrastructure Investment conference (TITIIC) in Pretoria.

“Ford announced an investment of R2.5 billion, to produce the new Everest SUV at its Silverton Plant in Tshwane. This investment will create further 1200 much needed jobs in the local economy,” said Ramokgopa. “The investment follows hot on the heels of recent expansion plans by BMW (R6 billion) and Nissan (expansion from 40 000 to 80 000 units) in their plants in Rosslyn.”

Ramokgopa said the first two phases of a five-phase Automotive Supplier Park (ASP) development have already been completed, spearheaded by the City of Tshwane's department of economic development and with support from the Gauteng provincial government.

The park comprises of 50 hectares of industrial space which has been developed. “Plans exist to expand this facility as well as the satellite supplier park at Silverton. This includes the R400 million consolidation centre in the ASP that will address the logistics needs of OEM (original equipment manufacturers) and component suppliers of the auto industry,” said Ramokgopa.

Creating SA’s own ‘Detroit’

Looking ahead, Ramokgopa said a public-private partnership project is the key to the development of the Tshwane Automotive City - a special economic zone where the chain of auto suppliers and OEMs will be located, that will emulate the city of Detroit in the United States.

“Leading this development with the City of Tshwane is the Automotive Industry Development Company (AIDC), which is a subsidiary of the Gauteng Growth and Development Agency, (GGDA), which looks to bring more OEMs and vehicle makers to Rosslyn,” said Ramokgopa. “This is intended to be done through creating a more enabling environment, including a more efficient logistics network, subsidised utilities, reduced rentals and bulk infrastructure improvements, as well as economies of scale.

“In order to make the development attractive and create a desirable destination for investors, it will include housing, green spaces, entertainment and retail facilities.”

African News Agency (ANA)