Chinese Ambassador to South Africa, Songtian Lin, says the Coega Special Economic Zone is a good case study for the continent and the world on how to develop and operate a SEZ.
“The Coega SEZ is by far the most successful SEZ on the African continent. It is a good case study for Africa and the world on how to develop and operate a Special Economic Zone,” said the Ambassador when he visited the SEZ located in the Eastern Cape.
Lin was very impressed with the Coega Development Corporation (CDC), which has so far attracted 40 investors. He encouraged the Coega SEZ to take advantage of increased Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into Africa.
According to the CDC, which is wholly-owned by the South African government and the operator of the Coega SEZ, South Africa remains the leading FDI destination in Africa, with a 6.9% increase in FDI projects in 2016. South Africa retains its top ranking in Africa as a destination for projects, with 139 projects in 2016 compared to 130 in 2015. It is followed by Morocco with 81 projects and Egypt with 79.
Chinese FDI into Africa increased dramatically, making China the single largest contributor of FDI capital and jobs in Africa in 2016.
Minister Counsellor (Economic) at the South African Embassy in Beijing, Charles Manuel, said the relationship between China and South Africa is solid.
“The South African government continues to create an enabling environment for Chinese investors. The South African Embassy in China works very well with investors and welcomes companies to address any challenges with the Embassy to jointly find solutions and resolve them amicably,” said Manuel.
Skills development and job creation
Lin was also impressed with the Skills Development Centre where young people from Motherwell, Wells Estate, New Brighton and the surrounding areas are receiving training in various skills including carpentry and plumbing. In addition, the job seekers’ portal, called the Gateway-to-Opportunities, is well recognised by the community as a gateway to employment in Coega projects.
Currently, there are 7243 people employed at Coega, with more than 85% of them coming from the local communities. This makes the Coega SEZ the largest employer in Nelson Mandela Bay Metro.
The CDC, which released its mid-year investment performance report last week, said it has signed eight new investors (against a target of three), exceeding its mid-year performance target by 167%.
Last year, the CDC signed 16 new investors, exceeding its annual target. The total investment contribution by the new investors was R11.69 billion, contributing approximately 0.23% to the provincial Gross Value Added (GVA).
Over the past six years, the CDC has attracted 77 new investors, with a combined investment value of R47.7 billion.
The CDC’s Head of Marketing: Brand and Communications, Dr Ayanda Vilakazi, said investment in the SEZ reflects a positive trend identified in the Africa Attractiveness Index (AAI) & Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) 2016 and 2017.
SEZs are geographically designated areas of a country that are set aside for specifically targeted economic activities. The Special Economic Zones and Industrial Parks Programme is run by the Department of Trade and Industry (dti).