President Jacob Zuma will officially launch the Saldanha Bay Industrial Development Zone (IDZ) at Saldanha Bay on South Africa's south-western coast on 31 October, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) announced on Wednesday.
The IDZ is one of the 18 strategic integrated projects (SIPs) of the Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission (PICC), the inter-governmental body that is overseeing South Africa's infrastructure drive.
Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies said in a statement that a feasibility study had shown that the Saldanha Bay IDZ project had huge potential for helping to lift South Africa's economy onto a higher industrial growth path.
The study, Davies said, found that the IDZ could potentially contribute 86% to the gross geographic product of the Western Cape and create in the region of 12 000 new jobs.
"Additionally, the Saldanha Bay IDZ is likely to attract foreign direct investment worth approximately R9.3-billion over 25 years", Davies said.
The study also found that Saldanha Bay is strategically located to serve as a service, maintenance, fabrication and supply hub for the booming African oil and gas sector, due to the increasing number of oil rigs requiring maintenance, and their traffic flow passing from the west to the east coast of Africa.
Last month, German company Oiltanking GmbH entered a joint venture with a number of South African companies to build a commercial crude oil storage and blending terminal at the port of Saldanha.
The company said that Saldanha was an excellent location for a crude oil hub, "as it is close to strategic tanker routes from key oil-producing regions to major oil-consuming markets".
Ideally situated for the blending of west African and South American crude oils, Saldanha "has the potential to establish itself as a global crude transhipment hub focused on certain established trade routes," the company added.
Davies noted that the oil and gas sector was one of the priority sectors of South Africa's Industrial Policy Action Plan (IPAP), adding that the IDZ would also help to advance the objectives of the country's National Development Plan (NDP).
Journalist Donwald Pressly, in a Business Report article published last month, wrote that a pre-feasibility study carried out three years ago by Western Cape investment promotion agency Wesgro found that Saldanha had potential for three industrial clusters - "a renewable energy production and manufacturing cluster, an oil supply base serving the oil and gas sector, coupled with a maritime ship building and repair cluster, and a steel and minerals production and manufacturing cluster".
Pressly quoted the SA Revenue Service's definition of an IDZ as being "a purpose-built industrial estate linked to an international air or sea port which might contain one or multiple customs-controlled areas tailored for manufacturing and storage of goods to boost beneficiation, investment, economic growth and the development of skills and employment".
South Africa, he noted, currently has three operating IDZs - at Richards Bay in KwaZulu-Natal, and in the Eastern Cape at East London and Coega, near Port Elizabeth.