Department assesses impact of Special Economic Zones

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Trade, Industry and Competition Deputy Minister, Nomalungelo Gina, has kicked off her week-long visit to KwaZulu-Natal with a visit to the Richards Bay Industrial Development Zone (RBIDZ).

Gina’s visit is part of the national Siyahlola Programme whose purpose is to assess progress made in the implementation of the Special Economic Zones Programme (SEZ), Revitalisation of Industrial Parks Programme and the sector-specific Master Plans that are part of the re-imagined national industrial development strategy.

Gina met with the City of uMhlathuze Mayor, Mduduzi Mhlongo, RBIDZ’s Chairperson Mel Clark, Acting Chief Executive Officer, Simangele Ngcobo and other senior government officials from KwaZulu-Natal.

The Deputy Minister reiterated that the SEZ programme is one of the key instruments that are used to achieve the objectives of the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan. 

“The SEZ Programme has managed to attract a significant number of investors.  This has seen the value of operational investments increasing from R17.7 billion by the end of the third quarter of the 2019-2020 financial year to R19.5 billion by the end of the third quarter of the 2020-2021 financial year.

“This is a positive increase of R1.8 billion. During the same period, the number of investments have increased from 129 to 143,” Gina said on Monday.

The Department of Trade, Industry and Competition, as a critical stakeholder in the implementation of the RBIDZ and custodian of the SEZ programme, is happy with the progress made in relation to the investment drive and job creation efforts.  

“Government has to create a platform where shareholders and investors can be able to feel the impact of our intervention when it comes to foreign and domestic direct Investments in these zones.

“We need to look at the whole value chain and identify projects that will be able to empower all surrounding areas including entrepreneurs outside these zones,” Gina said.

She said programmes like Siyahlola will result in tangible things being achieved through the sharing of ideas at all levels.

RBIDZ’s Acting Chief Executive Officer, Simangele Ngcobo believes that the programme will strengthen all efforts aimed at turning around circumstances caused by COVID-19.

“The recorded progress is evidenced by the commencement of construction by the two catalyst investment projects being Wilmar Processing SA (Pty) Ltd and Nyanza Light Metals (Pty) Ltd, which are investing a combined private investment value of R5.8 billion. 

“They are expected to create approximately 800 direct jobs.  These investments are expected to create an estimated 2 200 construction jobs. These projects come at a time when there has been a sharp decline in the construction sector and an increase in unemployment globally,” said Ngcobo.

Ngcobo also expressed appreciation for the support by all spheres of government - nationally, provincially and locally.

She added that RBIDZ is pleased that the Deputy Minister commended the positive progress by the entity and further committed to intervene in resolving bottlenecks with speed.

 “RBIDZ remains a strategic asset that will help change the face of the province moving forward.

“We are determined to contribute towards the creation of employment leveraging on the direct investments with different sectors of the economy being targeted to drive growth, spiralling skills transfer as well as value chain benefits to the people at large," said Ngcobo. –