KwaZulu-Natal set for in­dus­trial boom

Oil and re­new­able en­ergy sec­tors to fire up op­por­tu­ni­ties

The Star Early Edition - - COMPANIES & NEWS - Nom­pumelelo Mag­waza

KWAZULU-NATAL is poised to be a fu­ture plat­form for oil and gas as well as re­new­able en­ergy in­dus­tries in the coun­try.

This will be done through the Richards Bay In­dus­trial De­vel­op­ment Zone (IDZ) that was cur­rently lin­ing up mul­ti­mil­lion-rand in­vest­ment deals with lead­ers in th­ese in­dus­tries.

The zone’s chief ex­ec­u­tive, Phumelele Mot­soa­hae, said this week that Richards Bay, which had strug­gled to gain trac­tion as an IDZ, was poised for growth and in­vest­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties.

Richards Bay was one of the three ac­tive IDZ in the coun­try, with R5 bil­lion worth of in­vest­ment col­lec­tively. KwaZulu-Natal eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment MEC Mike Mabuyakhulu said the IDZ was ne­go­ti­at­ing a po­ten­tial R12bn in­vest­ment.

Last year, the IDZ signed recog­ni­tion agree­ments with three com­pa­nies rep­re­sent­ing in­vest­ments worth R4.56bn.

Nyanza Light Met­als, part of the Mau­ri­tian-based Arkein In­ter­na­tional, Dubai-based Oa­sis Group and Phaka-San­gle En­ergy Africa were com­pa­nies with pledged in­vest­ments.

They will be op­er­at­ing in ti­ta­nium diox­ide pig­ment, waste oil process and so­lar wa­ter heater sec­tors.

The IDZ was one of the first eco­nomic ini­tia­tives that was es­tab­lished in South Africa to com­ple­ment the coun­try’s democ­racy with eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment.

The no­tion around IDZs was that they should be linked up with sea­ports and air­ports, which is why they were es­tab­lished in places such as Coega, Richards Bay, East London and OR Tambo In­ter­na­tional Air­port, Sal­danha and re­cently Dube Trade­Port.

“The in­her­ent ben­e­fit of the IDZ was con­fined in terms of ge­og­ra­phy, sec­tor and ar­eas in which it could op­er­ate. This was re­con­fig­ured with a lot more lib­er­alised set of in­cen­tives through the spe­cial eco­nomic zones,” said Mot­soa­hae.

The Spe­cial Eco­nomic Zone Act was pro­mul­gated in May and would only be­come op­er­a­tional once the reg­u­la­tions have been adopted.

The Depart­ment of Trade and In­dus­try has al­ready ear­marked the re­cently launched Dube Trade­Port and the Tshi­ame IDZ in Har­ri­smith as the first to be trans­formed into spe­cial eco­nomic zones as soon as the reg­u­la­tory frame­work had been es­tab­lished.

“We have al­ready seen the ben­e­fits of be­ing in the IDZ with the dif­fer­en­ti­ated set of in­cen­tives that are be­ing of­fered such as cor­po­rate in­come tax, the op­por­tu­nity and cer­tain dis­count that one gets for build­ing pur­pose­ful in­fra­struc­ture,” said Mot­soa­hae.

In Richards Bay, in­vestors have been lin­ing up to be part of the IDZ which has the ad­van­tage of be­ing close to one of the coun­try’s deep wa­ter ports.

Mot­soa­hae said some of the short-term in­vest­ments that would be an­nounced later this year would in­clude a light man­u­fac­tur­ing and re­new­able in­dus­tries be­ing set up in Richards Bay.

“But for a long term we are pois­ing our­selves as a host plat­form for oil and gas op­por­tu­ni­ties as well as re­new­able en­ergy sec­tor,” he said.

The IDZ has started in­cor­po­rat­ing re­new­able en­ergy tech­nol­ogy in the light­ing in­fra­struc­ture. “We are cur­rently build­ing roads, util­i­ties as well as so­lar light­ing for the zone,” he said.

The zone was also ex­pected to make an im­por­tant an­nounce­ment next month about pos­si­ble in­vest­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties. “Most im­por­tantly would be the ful­fil­ment of the job cre­ation, es­pe­cially in con­struc­tion,” said Mot­soa­hae.

An artist’s im­pres­sion of the Richards Bay In­dus­trial De­vel­op­ment Zone. Three multi­na­tion­als are now on board.

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