THE inaugural BRICS Manufacturing Conference, to be held on 26 March in Sandton, will shine a spotlight on Special Economic Zones (SEZs), which have the potential to create a significant number of entrepreneurship and employment opportunities.
The Chairman of the BRICS Manufacturing Working Group, Kaizer Nyatsumba, who is also CEO of the Steel and Engineering Federation of Southern Africa, said that SEZ programmes provide an avenue for governments to attract investments, increase exports and include local companies into global supply chains, while creating opportunities for the beneficiation of natural resources and job creation.
The conference aims to help South African manufacturers identify opportunities to take advantage of the country’s relations with its BRICS counterparts – China, India, Brazil and Russia.
Among the speakers who will be part of the plenary session are Conny Mametja, CEO of the Nkomazi SEZ; Khwezi Tiya, CEO of the Coega SEZ; Pierre Voges, Acting CEO of the Atlantis SEZ; Lance Schultz, CEO of the Automotive Industry Development Centre; Seipati Mngadi, CEO of the OR Tambo SEZ; and Harmish Erskine, CEO of the Dube Trade Port.
Nyatsumba said SEZ programmes are integral to the government’s plans to stimulate industrialisation in the country. He said if implemented correctly, they can promote inclusive growth with long-term sustainability linked to both national and international (including BRICS countries) supply chains.
He listed several successful SEZ programmes that have already made a positive impact on the economy.
In the Eastern Cape, the East London and Coega SEZ programmes have attracted more than R19 billion in investment into the province.
The Tshwane Automotive Special Economic Zone in Gauteng has seen the government’s R3.3-billion infrastructure investment unlock billions of rands’ worth of investment by suppliers, including R15.8 billion by Ford Motor Company – the biggest foreign direct investment since the 2010 World Cup.
Another of the economic zones that will be showcased is the Nkomazi SEZ from Mpumalanga, which is a priority project of the BRICS Manufacturing Working Group, which is the organiser of the conference in partnership with the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC).
“The BRICS Manufacturing Conference will not only share these success stories, but it will also provide insights into how local manufacturers can participate in SEZ programmes and ultimately expand their footprints into our BRICS counterparts,” Nyatsumba said.