21 August 2017

South Africa: Committee Eager About Special Economic Zones

Parliament's Select Committee on Trade and International Relations has expressed excitement on the future prospects of the Saldanha Bay Industrial Development Zone (SBIDZ) and the Atlantis Special Economic Zone (SEZ).

"We were very excited about the future prospects of these projects for two reasons. The one is that industrialisation is a key economic driver in South Africa and we are proud of the work that the Department of Trade and Industry (the dti) is doing to effectively engage with the industrialisation process," said Chairperson of the Committee, Eddie Makue.

The Committee last week embarked on a five-day joint oversight visit that took place in Atlantis, Western Cape.

"We are secondly also excited when we look at the interest and the training that is already provided to young people, both through the Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Colleges, also through the training that is provided by the multinational corporations that are interested and even for those that are still considering investment here. We are happy as members of Parliament that the preparations have been done for such activities to benefit our economy," he said.

Makue said the visit was a high learning curve for members of the Select Committee.

However, the Committee raised concerns about market access and the utilisations of the products that are being produced in Atlantis.

"We are highly disturbed by the production that has come to a halt at one of the local companies here in Atlantis and the consequences that it has for the workers that benefitted from employment opportunities in this industrialisation processes here."

He said the Committee will give attention to inter-governmental cooperation.

"We also feel that the oversight has achieved its objectives of enabling us as Members of Parliament to not only understand the legislative responsibilities that we have, but also the responsibilities to hold the various government departments accountable," said Mekue.

Earlier this month, Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies announced that he had received a recommendation to designate the Atlantis SEZ.

The Minster received the recommendation from the SEZs Advisory Board as the application for the designation of the SEZ was jointly submitted by the Western Cape Provincial Department for Economic Opportunities and the City of Cape Town.

SEZs are geographically designated areas of a country that are set aside for specifically targeted economic activities.

The Atlantis SEZ is to be developed as a Green-Tech Hub with particular focus on clean technologies, electronics, solar and wind energy technologies, energy efficient technologies, alternative waste management, alternative building materials and technologies, among others.

Minister Davies said the strong economic potential of the area is reflected by the fact that five major investments are already operational in the area as part of the proposed SEZ, with investments exceeding R680 million and over 500 direct jobs already created.

Unveiling the Saldanha Bay Industrial Development Zone three years ago, President Jacob Zuma said the development zone must boost economic development, as well as facilitate job creation.

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