20 August 2008
Work has begun on South Africa’s first aerospace supplier park. Centurion Aerospace Village (CAV) will place smaller companies in close proximity to large suppliers like Denel and Aerosud, helping to increase their participation in the high value sector.
The CAV, which will help with the creation of a lean aero-structure supply chain focussed on manufacturing, is registered as a Section 21 non-profit company.
It will be constructed with the help of the European Union (EU), which has allocated €50-million (about R569-million) to the project through its sector wide support enterprise, employment and equity programme.
According to EU attache for private sector development Corrine Salinas, the programme aimed to promote the growth of small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) in the industry, with job creation being a fundamental objective.
Speaking at a sod turning ceremony in Centurion outside Pretoria on Tuesday, Salinas said R279-million had already been handed over to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), who are spearheading the project, with a further R180-million due shortly.
“This supplier park is not only modelled on the success of the local automotive industry, but also mirrors similar international parks, such as Silicone Valley in California and Toulouse in France,” the department said in a statement.
In addition, research is currently under way to assess the viability of using renewable and eco-friendly technology in the construction of South Africa’s first aerospace manufacturing facility.
“We are currently looking into the use of passive energy and considering the options of conventional power [provided by state utility Eskom] versus that of solar energy,” CAV project manager Vimal Mammen said at the ceremony.
“We are also looking into the use of water reticulation versus that of natural water.”
It is expected that the construction and operation of the CAV will lead to increased job creation, while also accelerating the integration of small companies into the aerospace industry.
“The CAV has been designed to unlock the growth potential of the local aerospace and aviation industries, where local original equipment manufacturers, suppliers of components, parts and tools and service providers stand to benefit equally from synergistic and economy of scale applications,” the department said.
The department pointed out that the CAV would not be limited to manufacturing, but would also offer opportunities in service-related activities including logistics, training and technology centres, shared services and coordinated education.
Denel Aviation CEO Ismail Dockrat said that the development of the CAV was a turning point for the aerospace industry in South Africa. “While the CAV is important to us as a local industry, it is interlinked to attracting original equipment manufacturers to South Africa and will help us join the international market,” he said.
“The success of the CAV is based on the commercial viability of the cluster to meet the demands of the international aerospace merket.”
Construction by 2009
The construction of the project is expected to create some 300 direct jobs, while the businesses housed within the village are expected to create about 500 direct jobs.
Phase one of the project will include infrastructure developments, water, electricity and construction of roads. The completion date for this phase, which precedes the actual development, is still to be announced.
Mammen said the national tender for the construction of the facility would go out in early 2009, with construction due to begin through the course of next year.
“We recognise the importance of efficient clusters of areas of competence that need to be developed and supported and ultimately integrated into the global aerospace industry,” Trade and Industry Minister Mandisi Mphalwa said at the ceremony.
“Failure to do so would isolate our domestic industry from the opportunities for growth foreseen in especially large commercial aircraft manufacturing as is forecast by both Airbus and Boeing, both of which have offered many opportunities for South Africa to become part of the ever-expanding supplier base.”