Posted: May 25, 2023
Honourable House Chairperson
Minister Patel and Deputy Minister Gina
Ministers and Deputy Ministers
Fellow South Africans
Let me begin by wishing all Africans in the continent and in the diaspora a happy Africa Day.
This year’s celebrations marks the 60th anniversary which is being celebrated under the slogan: “Our Africa, Our Future”.
As we observe Africa Day, we must continue to show our ongoing commitment towards the all-inclusive integration of the African continent.
We are emboldened by the words of Haile Selassie, the former Emperor of Ethiopia, in the first meeting of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) when he said;
“Today, we look to the future calmly, confidently and courageously. We look to the vision of an Africa not merely free but united”.
Today we are pursuing that dream of our forebears to achieve a free and united Africa.
Our focus on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) has been primarily on negotiating the legal frameworks for preferential trade to commence.
While we continue to prioritise the conclusion of outstanding negotiation issues, we are now shifting our focus and efforts towards facilitating and maximising the opportunities presented by the AfCFTA.
I would like to inform you that after substantial delays in achieving a common position, in February this year, the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) achieved a common offer covering 90% of its tariff book.
In the coming week, Minister Patel and I will travel to Nairobi, Kenya to attend the Council of Ministers which is expected to consider and approve the SACU offer.
In collaboration with provincial governments, the dtic is undertaking a targeted awareness strategy in all provinces to identify opportunities for businesses.
We want to identify and match key export priorities (products and sectors) of each province with the new market access opportunities in countries and regions that have finalised their tariff offers.
The first of these provincial sessions took place in Kwa-Zulu/Natal today and will be followed by Limpopo, Mpumalanga and Western Cape later in June and we hope to complete the process by the end of July 2023.
House Chairperson, last year we made a commitment to revise our spatial strategy in order to build and support a new model of special economic zones.
This was informed by the need to involve all spheres of government as the only way in which we can speedily drive the special economic zones programme.
The success of the new approach as evident in the Tshwane Automotive SEZ has prompted us to further expand the scope to other districts across the country.
As Minister Patel stated yesterday, we are proud to share with you that 10 new factories are in full production in the Tshwane SEZ, employing over 2500 workers.
The new approach recognises the capacity of special economic zones to advance regional economic development in support of the district development model (DDM).
Yesterday, Minister Patel announced the imminent publishing of our intention to establish a special economic zone in Namaqua, Northern Cape.
This special economic zone will catalyse growth and development in the district and neighbouring economies and will also bring more jobs and further investments to the entire province.
In the Vaal, unemployment and poverty levels remain acute and the district development model presents an opportunity to harmoniously deploy State resources to uplift the quality of life of our people.
Addressing the Sedibeng Presidential Imbizo held on the 12th of August 2022, President Ramaphosa said:
“By far unemployment is the biggest challenge. The Gauteng government has ambitious plans to revitalise Sedibeng by developing agriculture, by developing logistics, tourism and industries as well. These plans are pivoted around the Vaal SEZ”
Working together with the Gauteng provincial government, the district and local municipalities, we are on a path of regeneration and rejuvenation in this region.
The initial phase of the implementation of the proposed Vaal SEZ is anchored by two investment projects that are valued at R5,6 billion.
Mitochondria Energy will establish a Solid Oxide Fuel Cell manufacturing facility in the Emfuleni local municipality for a total project cost of R4,3 billion.
Bluedrop Energy will establish a facility in the Lesedi local municipality for the manufacturing and distribution of composite LPG cylinders for a total investment of R1,1 billion.
These two projects, which are scheduled to break ground within the 2023/24 financial year, will create a combined 2 300 jobs during construction and 1 000 direct jobs at the operational phase.
Honourable members, Minister Patel is leading a process that will unlock an investment that will catalyse the development of the Vaal Aerotropolis and the Vaal River City projects.
These two megaprojects, along with the proposed Vaal SEZ, are the cornerstone of the interventions that will revitalise the Vaal economy and stimulate massive direct investment flows into the region.
I am also proud to announce that our department in partnership with the Limpopo provincial government, district and local municipalities has advanced plans to create the Fetakgomo Industrial Park in Sekhukhune as a base for the creation of the proposed Fetakgomo-Tubatse SEZ.
The proposed Fetakgomo-Tubatse SEZ has developed a positive investment pipeline of 35 domestic and global companies to the tune of just over R40 billion.
Eight (8) of these investors have shown keen commitment and confirmed to be ready to locate in the next 6 to 12 months and projected to invest just over R5,5 billion.
This proposed SEZ has also presented an opportunity for government to collaborate with private investors to establish a new smart city in the Sekhukhune District.
These investments will benefit communities of Fetakgomo-Tubatse, Sekhukhune District and the entire Limpopo Province.
As we continue with the task of connecting with our people, two weeks ago I joined other government leaders as we accompanied the Deputy President to Jagersfontein, a community ravaged by the tailings dam disaster.
Working with Deputy Minister Tau, the Free State provincial government and other departments we are embarking on a programme to help bring normality to the community of Jagersfontein within the next 3 months.
We will canvass resources to enable adequate and efficient service delivery to the people of this town, drive infrastructure investment and advance local economic development.
The project to refurbish the rail corridor linking the Tshwane automotive hub with the Port of Port Elizabeth is gathering momentum.
The project is driven by National Government working together with Gauteng and Eastern Cape governments and will help attract more investors and create more opportunities and jobs.
Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to take this moment to share with you some of the projects funded by the department and its entities.
ALPLA, a world leader in the development and production of innovative plastic packaging solutions has an investment of R1 billion in the City of Cape Town.
The new plant will produce various plastic products including bottle closures and special packaging for the food and pharmaceutical industries.
Creslow Energy Solutions is a 100% black-owned business founded in December 2021, based in Emalahleni, Mpumalanga, which operates in the Energy Storage industry.
The company manufactures solar batteries and other storage solutions for commercial and residential use and their scalable business model will allow expansion into the African continent.
ArtSolar is based in Durban and is capable of designing and implementing renewable energy solutions for medium to large size projects. Its manufacturing facility opened in November 2022.
This, honourable members is very important for our objective to establish South Africa as a critical role player in the supply of solar products.
As I conclude, I would like to thank Minister Patel and Deputy Minister Gina for their support, the dtic family led by the ADG, Ms Malebo Mabitje-Thompson and lastly the leadership of our entities.
Once again, Happy Africa Day
Our Africa, Our Future!