Work has begun on the R3.4 billion Tshwane Automotive Special Economic Zone (TASEZ), with groundworks and the installation of bulk infrastructure currently underway.
Broadly, Special Economic Zones are an initiative of the South African government, aimed at repositioning the country in the world economy and have become global tools for social and economic transformation, resulting in exponential growth when deployed.
The Special Economic Zone (SEZ) represents numerous firsts for South Africa, said Gauteng premier David Makhura a in a speech on Tuesday (8 September).
“It is the first SEZ where all three spheres of government are stakeholders, and it will be the first automotive city in Africa, designed to include township areas that are far from the region’s economic activities.”
Makhura said that the zone is also first in the country to have numerous investors already lined up so the facilities are being built to specification for these companies that are already enlisted, and are ready to move in as soon as the construction is completed.
“This province shall never be the same again. I believe that we will go far with this SEZ by working with the DTIC, the Gauteng Province, City of Tshwane and Ford Motor Company.”
The Tshwane Automotive SEZ is estimated to create over 8,700 jobs during the construction of the first phase of the project, and around 2,100 permanent jobs for operations.
Thousands of additional jobs are also expected to be added as it evolves into a multi-faceted hub designed to bolster the manufacturing capacity and global competitiveness of the South African automotive industry.
“In developing the Tshwane Automotive Special Economic Zone we are sure to restore the much-needed hope to our people where thousands of jobs will be created over the next two years,” said City of Tshwane administrator, Mpho Nawa.
“With billions of rands to be invested in this region, we will see the broadening and participation of SMMEs from the surrounding communities and bring the much-needed stimulation of our economy.”
An online portal has been created specifically for this project, enabling SMMEs to register and tender for various elements of the construction work.
Aside from simply creating jobs, the initiative will also train and mentor SMMEs, equipping them with essential skills and experience that will enable them to expand their businesses and create additional jobs beyond the scope of this project.
A jobs portal has also been added for individuals wishing to apply for career opportunities.
Investment from Ford and suppliers
Ockert Berry of the Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa (FMCSA) said that the Covid-19 lockdown delayed the project by several months, and also impacted the disbursement of the initial funds for clearing of the site and the commencement of the bulk infrastructure implementation.
“However, extensive design work was done in the interim, and the construction teams were on-site from the beginning of August, with significant earthworks already completed over the past month,” he said.
By the end of August, over 95,000 square metres of the main site adjacent to Ford’s Silverton Assembly Plant had been cleared, with more than 10,500 square metres of topsoil hauled or stockpiled for construction.
“When we announced the TASEZ last year we had expressions of interest from nine supplier companies,” said FMCSA’s Dhiren Vanmali of the new project.
“We currently have 12 suppliers that have committed to setting up operations within the SEZ with an anticipated investment of over R4.3 billion in the economy, and another 10 have shown keen interest. Accordingly, the team is already hard at work on the next phases of the project beyond the initial 81 hectare site.”
Once completed, the economic zone will span 204 hectares – currently owned by the City of Tshwane.