The Selebi Phikwe Economic Diversification Unit (SPEDU) has set an ambitious target of creating 6,856 thousand jobs in the next 36 months. SPEDU is now under immense pressure to diversify the economy of Selebi Phikwe and surrounding villages after the closure of the BCL mine more than a year ago. The closure of the mine left more than 6 000 former miners unemployed which crippled the economy of the town.
In an interview with The Patriot on Sunday, SPEDU Corporate Communications Manager, Sheillah Moribame said that they are currently involved in fifteen projects covering twelve citizen owned companies in Information Technology ,Services and manufacturing. Three are government projects and two foreign owned in agriculture sectors. Moribame noted that the total investment value from companies is estimated at P1.185 billion.
"SPEDU has embarked on economic diversification in the region, in order to open up for more business investments. Our mandate is to diversify the economy by developing sectors that will contribute meaningfully to Gross Domestic Product," said the optimistic Moribame.
She noted that they believe that there is a plethora of untapped opportunities beyond mining and diamonds. To date SPEDU has managed to create 673 jobs against the target of 1150 in the next 12 months.
Moribame highlighted that their efforts to lure investors to set up in Phikwe continue to bear fruits. In December last year, a company producing bottled water resumed operations. The Managing Director of Fresh2go Phikwe Pure, Peter Hughes revealed that his company is currently employing 7 people. "We started our business through the help of SPEDU, LEA and CEDA. So far the business is moving at a snail pace due to stiff competition from well-established entities," said Hughes.
He expressed optimism that the business will start doing well once they are able to penetrate the already saturated market.
Meanwhile, Hughes has made a desperate plea to the government to revamp and re-establish railway links in the former mining town to the rest of major ports in Southern African countries. Hughes further said once the railway links to other southern African countries are re re-established it will revitalize the economy of the town as more manufactures will set up in Phikwe. Hughes emphasized that it is quiet cheaper to transport goods and products using the railway line compared to using other modes of transport.