The new Durban investment promotion strategy is geared towards attracting at least 33 FDI projects into the city over the next five years. Picture: Brian Spurr

The eThekwini Municipality has unveiled an ambitious plan which seeks to boost new foreign direct investment (FDI) into the city over the next five years.

The new Durban investment promotion strategy is geared towards attracting at least 33 FDI projects into the city over the next five years. This, it is hoped, will translate to about R3.3 billion in new investment and to about 4 000 new high-skills jobs being created.

The strategy will be driven by the Invest Durban unit of the city. Launching the unit on Friday, Mayor Zandile Gumede said the initiative meant to attract new investments, boost investor confidence and improve the ease of doing business in the city.

To achieve this, the city is pumping more financial and human resources into the unit, formerly known as the Durban Investment Promotion Agency (Dipa), the main aim of which is to promote Durban as Africa’s premier investment destination.

The project is a culmination of a process that started about 
18  months ago when the city leadership approached national treasury with the aim of reviewing investment promotion.

“World Bank Group consultants were then brought in and collectively we identified the need for eThekwini to develop a new investment strategy along with a review of the resources and institutional requirements in order to give full effect to the strategy,” said Phillip Sithole, the acting deputy city manager responsible for the economic cluster.

The unit’s focus will not be only on attracting new investment, as it will also focus on the expansion of existing investors, foreign investor aftercare and policy advocacy.

Core to the success of the strategy will be Team Durban, a new advisory board of no more than 15 members drawn mainly from business, academia and labour. 

The city is busy with the process of appointing members of the Team Durban board.

“Team Durban is an external advisory team that will advise the city leadership on how to attract investment and improve the cost of doing business. Basically this is a team that will help us target the next investor,” Russell Curtis of Invest Durban explained.

The unit will target five primary sectors, namely automotive industries, logistics, ICT, Agri-processing and Life sciences which includes things like pharmaceuticals, biomedical devices and health services.

Curtis said eThekwini had many advantages, including it being home to the continent’s biggest port.
 “Durban is an award-winning city. I can challenge any city in the world to try to show us a more compelling list of awards won over the past three years and very few will be able to,” Curtis said.

Sithole said it was envisaged that the new strategy would lead to the generation of new revenue streams for the city through property rates and taxes, the creation of jobs, skills development and economic transformation.

Economist Dawie Roodt said the targets set by eThekwini were realistic as long as the city understood the motivation and the requirements of the investors.

“The investors  want an investment opportunity where they will be safe, where it will be easy to do business. 

“No investor is walking around saying, I have money and I want to invest money because I want to alleviate poverty. We just have to understand that and stop imposing unnecessary restrictions on investors,” he said.