India, China eye Coega IDZ

30 January 2008

Several Indian companies are in talks to invest in the region of R16-billion in metals and automotive projects at South Africa’s Coega industrial development zone, while Chinese companies are showing strong interest in the Eastern Cape’s hottest industrial property.

In a statement last Thursday, the Coega Development Corporation (CDC) said that several companies from India and China were looking at the Coega IDZ outside Port Elizabeth to locate their investments.

This follows an increased focus on luring investment from the two Asian giants, and according to CDC business development manager Belu Mabandla, it took only a few visits to India and China before they got 15 companies to show “serious intent” to invest in the zone.

“Among Indian companies, the total value of investment projects being negotiated exceeds R16-billion and covers the metals and automotive sectors,” the CDC said, adding that three investments from India may be signed during 2008/9.

According to the CDC, many Chinese investors view South Africa as a launch pad to the rest of the continent, especially in light of that country’s “Go Africa” strategy.

Chinese investors were especially looking at attractive industrial estates for both greenfield projects and merger opportunities with existing local companies.

“One of the projects in consideration for the Coega IDZ is large enough to occupy nearly half of the automotive cluster once all phases have been completed,” the CDC said.

CDC business development manager Christopher Mashigo said the level of interest from China was beyond his expectations. “There is a high level of optimism about investing in Africa, and most importantly in South Africa”, Mashigo said. “Furthermore Chinese companies understand the concept of an IDZ and what the CDC can offer.

“Four to six visits are planned with Chinese companies this year for site visits and discussions regarding the project,” he said.

CDC spokesman Ongama Mtimka told The Herald last week that an Indian company, Afro-Asia Steel, had already signed a R75-million project for a steel billets plant at the IDZ.

“A record of decision would be formalised soon and the first phase of construction was expected to begin early in the second half of this year,” the paper reported.

SAinfo reporter

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