7 July 2008
Fixed investment in and exports from KwaZulu-Natal province are set to increase with the completion of the R6.5-billion Dube Trade Port – the largest single government infrastructure investment in the province – to the north of Durban.
“The catalytic impact of this project will not be confined to the growth node in the costal area north of Durban, but will reverberate across the entire province and position KwaZulu-Natal as a destination of choice for domestic and international tourists,” KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sibusiso Ndebele told delegates at the International Investment Council in San Lameer in May.
The council, attended by President Thabo Mbeki, Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka and Cabinet members, drew on the insights of distinguished international business leaders on how to meet the challenges of economic growth in South Africa.
By the time of its completion ahead of the 2010 Fifa World Cup, the Dube Trade Port itself will have contributed an estimated R12.4-billion to the economy and created thousands of new jobs.
According to statistics, the Durban port is the busiest port city on the African continent and ideally located to access the international shipping routes between East and West. It is also the largest of South Africa’s seven ports.
It handles in excess of 31.4-million tons of cargo a year, with a value in excess of R100-billion per annum – approximately 65% of the value of all cargo going through South African ports.
According to a report released by Quantec data, KwaZulu-Natal’s top export destinations in 2005 were the United States, Japan, India, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Germany.
More than R3-billion has been set aside for investment in Durban port’s infrastructure since 2002 for various improvements that include the construction of cargo terminals, Ndebele said.
The province’s second port – Richard’s Bay – is also South Africa’s premier bulk cargo handling port and is one of the fastest growing industrial areas in the province, and the centre of operations for South Africa’s aluminium industry.
Ndebele further told delegates that the foreign private companies had invested over R27-billion in the province between 2000 and 2005, enabling provincial economic growth to rise from 1% in 1999 to 5.3% in 2005.
Since then, he said, the province had seen further groundbreaking fixed direct investments, while nearly a third of South Africa’s manufactured exports were produced in the province.
These include the R2.4-billion expansion of Toyota’s plant outside Durban, a new R2.5-billion plant by United Pulp in Richards Bay, a R2-billion expansion at Sappi Saiccor at Umkomaas, and a R650-million investment by Tata in a steel plant in Richard’s Bay.
In addition, an almost R20-billion investment is on the cards in the KwaZulu-Natal north coast for a “city within a city” project, modelled on the Dubai Palm complex in the Arab emirate.
“These private investments are particularly encouraging for us and they are aligned to our national industrial policy,” said Ndebele. “KwaZulu-Natal has also recently undergone rapid industrialisation, thanks to its abundant water supply and labour resources.”