7 June 2013
Chinese consumer electronics company Hisense officially opened a R350-million electronics factory in Atlantis north of Cape Town on Thursday.
Hisense started manufacturing flat-screen televisions and refrigerators at the plant in February, recruiting and training 300 previously unemployed residents from the area.
The company said on Thursday that it plans to double the size of the factory over the next few years, and increase its staff complement to 1 000 people, with a view to extending production to washing machines, air conditioning units and, possibly, wine coolers and coffee machines.
The Atlantis factory – one of only five established by the company outside of China – will produce its goods for local consumption to begin with, but will ultimately export into Africa.
Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel, speaking at Thursday’s opening, said that, to the people of Atlantis, “this factory brings hope that the burden of poverty and unemployment that ravaged the people of this area for years can be reversed.
“Nationally, it helps us to realise our vision of re-industrialising the South African economy and strengthening the manufacturing sector.”
Patel noted that, as South Africa ramped up local production, the country had reduced its imports of televisions by 29% year-on-year in 2012, while increasing its exports of televisions by 77%. Between 2008 and 2012, he said, the country’s trade deficit in televisions had improved from US$334-million to $172-million.
“South Africa has, at the same time, increased its exports of televisions to the rest of Africa, with nine of our top 10 destinations being African countries, and almost 90% of our exports going to other African countries,” he said.
“This is the result of a dedicated effort by the government to revive the local electronics sector.”
Hisense was awarded a R26.8-million cash grant from the Department of Trade and Industry’s Manufacturing Investment Programme, while the Industrial Development Corporation has signed a memorandum of understanding with Hisense and the China-Africa Development Fund encompassing finance for the company’s planned expansion.