South Africa’s Special Economic Zones (SEZ) programme is attracting billions in foreign direct investment, says Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies.
There are eight designated zones in the country namely Saldanha Bay in the Western Cape, Dube Trade Port and Richards Bay in KwaZulu-Natal, East London and Coega in the Eastern Cape, the soon-to-be launched Maluti-a-Phofung in the Free State, as well as the recently added Musina in Limpopo.
“The Musina-Makhado Special Economic Zone has been designated as the first zone under the new SEZ Act. It will be established in the Vhembe region in Limpopo and will focus on four major industrial clusters, which are energy and metallurgical, agro-processing, petro-chemical, and trade and logistics,” said the Minister.
The new zone has so far attracted investment interest from Chinese consortia. The total investment is currently estimated at approximately R56.9 billion.
“There has been a substantial increase in the number and value of secured but not yet operational investments. The total number increased from 47 to 72, while total value increased to R41.2 billion. At least 13 of these investments are expected to be operational within the next 12 months, as soon as infrastructure development is completed,” said Minister Davies.
The Minister highlights some of the individual achievements of the SEZ such as the R11.5 billion BAIC automotive investment and the 1 000MW (under independent power producers), with an investment value of R25 billion in Coega; the R1.3 billion agreement with CIPLA to produce biosimilars at Dube Trade Port; the R260 million new investment covering horticulture and metal refining at the OR Tambo IDZ, as well as the 2 000MW under Gas IPP awarded to the Richards Bay IDZ.
The Special Economic Zones Act has been operational as of 9 February 2016, and the work of the SEZ Advisory Board has since started. The board is responsible for advising the Minister on policy and strategy issues as well as evaluation of the new applications for the designation.
The SEZ programme is one of the critical instruments that the Department of Trade and Industry is using to accelerate industrialisation in the country. The programme, which has entered a full implementation phase, is important for attracting foreign direct investments (FDIs), creating decent jobs, establishing new industrial centres, as well as developing and improving the existing infrastructure.