Pretoria - The Northern Cape is ready for the establishment of special economic zones, says the Department of Trade and Industry (dti).
Speaking at a public hearing on the draft Special Economic Zones Bill and Policy in the Northern Cape on Tuesday, the department's Head of Regional and Spatial Economic Development, Alfred Tau, said: "The kind of enthusiasm and level of engagement and commitment that characterised today's session has left us with no doubt that the Northern Cape is ready for business when it comes to the establishment and development of special economic zones.
The Bill was gazetted by Minister Rob Davies last month. It aims to provide for an effective mechanism for the development, operation and management of special economic zones to promote accelerated industrial development and industrial decentralisation.
"There is no doubt that your valuable inputs will go a long way in enriching the new legislation," he said of the public engagement session.
Two special economic zones are planned for the Northern Cape and the dti has already begun talks with the provincial government in establishing the zones.
The zones are expected to assist the country address some of South Africa's socio-economic challenges like unemployment and poverty.
"South Africa still experiences a high unemployment rate, particularly amongst the country's youth, as well as high levels of poverty and inequality. The special economic zones, as proposed in the draft bill and policy, will be used as one of the tools that government will apply in order to address some of these challenges," explained Tau.
Since the introduction of the Industrial Development Zones by the dti in 2000, significant changes have happened such as changes in the country's industrial and economic policies. This includes the introduction of new policies and strategies like the New Growth Path and the National Development Plan.
In the national budget tabled last week, R2.3 billion was allocated to the department for industrial development and special economic zones.
Infrastructure Development Support chief director at the department, Kaya Ngqaka, said that the new legislation would promote the development of world-class infrastructure in each region in line with the needs of the targeted industries.
Submission made by those attending the session in Northern Cape and others throughout the country will be considered when the bill and policy are finalised.