Over One Billion Rand For Eastern Cape's IDZ s

East London - A R1.3-billion investment by government into three economic zones in the country will breathe life back into the Eastern Cape's economy.

Coega Development Corporation (CDC) marketing and communications manager, Ayanda Vilakazi, said according to the 2012 Estimates of National Expenditure, government has set aside an estimated R1.3 billion for developing industrial development zone infrastructure to increase the export of value-added commodities.

"This money will be spent on the expansion of Coega, South Africa's largest IDZ, as well as the IDZs in East London and Richards Bay. This once again highlights government's continued dedication to infrastructure development," said Vilakazi on Friday.

Vilakazi said while Wednesday's announcement by Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan during the national Budget Speech of a R3.2 trillion cash injection for mega-projects would have far-reaching implications for Coega, it was important to note that the IDZ had already attracted substantial investment on its own.

"The Coega IDZ currently has 21 operating investors, which represents R1.24 billion in private sector investments. To date, this has created 3 645 construction jobs, 2 985 direct jobs and 25 000 indirect jobs," said Vilakazi.

He said the IDZ also had projects worth R7.6 billion in the pipeline for 2012, with other projects either delayed or still being negotiated -- bringing total investment to R140 billion.

In his State of the Nation Address, President Jacob Zuma announced a new manganese corridor from the Coega IDZ to the Port of Ngqura, with Transnet set to build a railway line to carry 16-million tons of manganese to the port every year.

During her State of the Province Address in Bhisho last week, Eastern Cape Premier Noxolo Kiviet hinted at the launch of PetroSA's R76 million Mthombo Oil Refinery project at Coega.

"This could prove to be another big boost to the Eastern Cape economy. It will go a long way to contributing towards the IDZ's continued growth. These projects will act as a catalyst for socio-economic transformation and industrial diversification in the province," said Vilakazi.

Another investment by a Chinese auto-maker to start building a $1-billion assembly plant by the end of February will see over 2 000 jobs being created at Coega.

"Investments in infrastructure remain a positive contributor towards job creation, which will be realised in the short-term construction phase as well as the longer-term maintenance and operation phase," said Vilakazi.

Thando Cezula
- BuaNews