SILVERTON - Ford South Africa has teamed up with both local and national governments to create an industrial hub for automotive component suppliers.

The Tshwane Automotive Special Economic Zone (SEZ), which will be positioned adjacent to Ford’s Silverton assembly plant in Gauteng, was officially launched by President Cyril Ramaphosa in a ‘soil turning’ ceremony on Tuesday.

The initiative aims to play a significant role in bolstering further investment and job creation in the local economy, while also aiding future expansion projects for the Ford plant.

The SEZ will be launched in several phases, with construction of the initial 81 hectare phase having already commenced. This first phase is expected to create around 7000 jobs, but the zone is expected to eventually span 162 ha of land, ultimately contributing to an estimated 70 000 jobs in the “total value chain”, Ford said.

"I am pleased to note that the 18 companies that have been engaged to set up operations in this SEZ are already revving their engines and are rearing to go; with nine already confirmed to set up factories here by January 2021,” Ramaphosa said.

The president added that there were many potential benefits for companies joining an established SEZ, including favourable customs regulations, a preferential corporate tax regime, employee tax incentives, building allowances as well as support for training and capital investment.

“The launch of the Tshwane Automotive SEZ is a milestone achievement following five years of engagement between Ford Motor Company and government, specifically the Department of Trade and Industry,” said Ford SA managing director Neale Hill. 

“The public-private partnership between all three spheres of government and the private sector is crucial in order to drive growth in the automotive industry, to create more jobs and to boost the economy,” Hill added.

Ford’s VP of operations Ockert Berry added that having new suppliers adjacent to the Silverton assembly plant is also a crucial step towards increasing the efficiency of the local operations, and enabling further potential increases in production.

The plant currently produces Ranger bakkies and Everest SUVs for both local consumption and for over 100 export markets across the globe.

IOL Motoring