THE much-mooted Saldanha Bay Industrial Development Zone (IDZ) got the official government nod last month – a development that will hopefully start building the West Coast’s reputation as an attractive commercial hub.
The key admission around the IDZ came from Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies, who said a feasibility study had shown that the Saldanha Bay IDZ project had huge potential for helping to lift South Africa’s economy onto a higher industrial growth path.
The study – as reported previously in CBN - has found that the IDZ could potentially contribute 86% to the gross geographic product of the Western Cape and create in the region of 12,000 new jobs. Davies also estimated that the Saldanha Bay IDZ could attract around R9,3bn in foreign direct investment over the next 25 years.
Alan Winde, Wes-tern Cape Minister of Finance, Economic Development and Tourism, welcomed the official hand over the operator permit for the Saldanha Bay IDZ. He noted that Port of Saldanha Bay had long been acknowledged as an important resource for the sustainable growth and development of the West Coast region. Winde said the IDZ presented significant opportunities for the Western Cape.
“While the initial phases will be focused on setting up the IDZ structures, in the longer term, once companies are entrenched in the IDZ, jobs will be created.”
He stressed, though, that it was vital that local residents became appropriately skilled.
“We are aware of several programmes, including our own Artisan Development Programme, that aim to build skills in the Oil and Gas industry.”
He reiterated a vision to establish the Western Cape as the oil and gas hub for Africa. “The Saldanha Bay IDZ is crucial in achieving this objective.” Winde said SA’s was significant industrial economy in the sub-Saharan region and was logistically well connected.
“It is therefore a natural location for repair and maintenance services, warehousing and logistics and professional.technical services where proximity to end location is an advantage. This is why the Port of Saldanha has a natural competitive advantage.”
The IDZ feasibility study also found that Saldanha Bay was strategically located to serve as a service, maintenance, fabrication and supply hub for the booming African oil and gas sector. This is mainly due to the increasing number of oilrigs requiring maintenance, and their traffic flow passing from the west to the east coast of Africa.
In a significant recent development that reinforces Saldanha as a maintenance and service hub for the oil sector, German company Oiltanking GmbH embarked on a joint venture with a number of South African companies to build a commercial crude oil storage and blending terminal at the port of Saldanha.
By Jenni McCann