New IDZ to benefit West Coast residents, business
President Jacob Zuma will launch the Saldanha Bay Industrial Development Zone next week, writes Anna-Marie Smith
THE economy of the West Coast region stands to benefit from foreign direct investment worth about R9.3bn into the area over the next 25 years with the opening of the Saldanha Bay Industrial Development Zone (IDZ). It is crucial to the government’s plans for the Western Cape to become the oil and gas hub for Africa, while alleviating poverty in the region.
The long-awaited Saldanha Bay IDZ operator permit is key to an estimated contribution of 86% to the region’s gross geographic product. Job creation as part of long-term economic growth has been on the cards since 2010 at provincial as well as municipal levels. Local communities are set to benefit from an estimated 12,000 direct, indirect and induced jobs.
Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies said earlier this month that an IDZ feasibility study revealed Saldanha Bay’s strategic location as ideal for servicing Africa’s substantial oil and gas sector. Davies said high volumes of marine traffic along the Cape West Coast, which is resulting in more oil rigs requiring maintenance, bodes well for greater technical and artisan employment opportunities in the area.
Increased economic activity related to IDZ operations also ties in with the West Coast District Municipality’s Integrated Development Plan 2010-2014. This report identified Saldanha Bay and Vredenburg as urban growth areas with high development potential along the West Coast transport corridor, which includes Malmesbury and St Helena Bay.
Residents of coastal towns close to the port of Saldanha, 140km from Cape Town, have traditionally been employed in the fishing, agricultural and tourism industries. However, upskilling programmes and artisan training in the industrial sector are set to increase sustainable employment opportunities for communities.
The town of Vredenburg is 12km from Saldanha Bay and is regarded as the business centre of the West Coast, and a springboard to neighbouring coastal towns. This central business district is located along the N7, which is also the transport corridor to Namibia. Different segments of the property market in this area are seeing varying degrees of growth. Residents and employees enjoy easy access to retail facilities at the West Coast Mall, while business as well as light industrial and sectional title developments are located at the West Coast Business Park and surrounding areas.
Chas Everitt West Coast principal Kobus Potgieter says: “The property market in this region is currently in the earliest stages of increased activity, as a result of the Saldanha Bay IDZ.” He says different segments of the property market, in particular those related to the industrial sector, are seeing increased growth. This follows a similar market pattern to when Saldanha Steel came to the region, with impact of real business activity only seen 12 months later.
However, although a distressed market since 2008 has resulted in large pockets of undeveloped land, the region is seeing demand for good rental property across different income groups.
He says the house rentals most in demand in Vredenburg and Saldanha Bay cater for middle income as well as blue collar employees. Rental properties from R3,500 to R4,500/month for two- and three-bedroom houses with single garages are built on plots measuring up to 120m².
Potgieter says: “Increased demand for rentals in this sector is resulting in new development opportunities, in particular such as apartment blocks in centrally located areas, to cater for the needs of employees in industrial and business nodes.”
Senior company managers and executives of large national and international businesses, who commute to Saldanha Bay, continue to favour upmarket houses along the coastline in Jacobsbaai and Langebaan, about 30km away. Potgieter says this area also offers access to three private schools close to most West Coast towns. Curro Schools will shortly be introducing a boarding school at its West Coast facilities.
Recent residential property development has also been seen around Club Mykonos, where large anchor tenants at a mixed use development attract residents at private estates, such as Blue Bay and Calypso Beach.
Private developer Kobus Coetzee of Langemeer Property Developers says greater demand is seen for new upmarket residential properties in secure surroundings, where buyers of both holiday and permanent housing are purchasing homes in the upper millions. All 30 units at Helios Place, completed earlier this year, ranging in price from R900,000 to R1.2m, sold out in a short period.
Saldanha Bay’s location is ideal for servicing Africa’s substantial oil and gas sectors.