Ground has been broken on the Eastern side of Pretoria as the R3,4-billion Tshwane Automotive Special Economic Zone (TASEZ) starts to become a reality.
Officially announced in November 2019 by South African president Cyril Ramaphosa and Gauteng Premier David Makhura, work has begun clearing the site, laying groundworks and the installation of bulk infrastructure.
The Tshwane Automotive SEZ was today visited by Premier Makhura; Deputy Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition (DTIC), Fikile Majola; City of Tshwane Administrator, Mpho Nawa; as well as Director General of DTIC and TASEZ chairperson, Lionel October, reaffirming the importance of this pioneering public-private partnership.
“The Tshwane Automotive Special Economic Zone represents numerous firsts for South Africa,” says Gauteng Premier, David Makhura. “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.”
The expansive project represents national government through the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition; Gauteng Province through the Gauteng Department of Economic Development; City of Tshwane through the Tshwane Economic Development Agency; along with Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa (FMCSA).
Makhura emphasised the need to build an economy that creates more small businesses owned by black people and women, and giving young people opportunities through providing training and entrepreneurial skills so they can set up their own business.
“This is the first SEZ that will have 47% SMME participation,” he added. “These are real businesses and SMME’s from the local townships that will add real value in the construction of this project, and we need to allow them to graduate into the broader industry, including manufacturing and operations.
“The TASEZ also follows a new model for special economic zones in South Africa, as it is the first SEZ 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.”
The TASEZ Company has been established as the operating company for the SEZ and is supported by the Coega Development Corporation (CDC) in establishing an automotive manufacturing hub adjacent to Ford’s Silverton Assembly Plant in Pretoria, which aims to become Africa’s first automotive city.
The Tshwane Automotive SEZ is estimated to create some 8 700 jobs during the construction of the first phase of the project, with around 2 100 permanent jobs for operations. Thousands of additional jobs will 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, while contributing to job creation, skills development and the economic upliftment of local communities.
A key milestone in the formation of the Tshwane Automotive SEZ was the establishment of the board in March this year, which is chaired by Lionel October, director general of the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition. The board comprises representatives from all three spheres of government, along with two senior executives from FMCSA: VP of Operations, Ockert Berry and Dhiren Vanmali, Ford’s executive director of Government Affairs for Africa. Ford also holds a key position in the technical Steering Committee that is leading the implementation of the project.
“The formal establishment of the board was instrumental in strategically driving the project forward in conjunction with all three spheres of government, and Ford is directly involved by bringing in several of our automotive component suppliers that have committed to establishing operations within the TASEZ to support our local vehicle production,” explains Ockert Berry.
“The unexpected COVID-19 lockdown unfortunately 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,” Berry says. “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.”
“The TASEZ board developed a comprehensive recovery plan with all key stakeholders to ensure the project meets the targeted deadlines for the bulk infrastructure to be completed and the top structures to be built and we are confident most of our suppliers will be able to take occupation of their facilities as planned during the first half of 2021 thanks to the commitment of the appointed contractors.”
The Tshwane Automotive SEZ has seen keen interest from Ford’s suppliers, according to Dhiren Vanmali: “When we announced the TASEZ last year we had expressions of interest from nine supplier companies. We currently have 12 suppliers that have committed to setting up operations within the SEZ with an anticipated investment of more than 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 ha site.”
Once completed, the SEZ will span 204 ha of land currently owned by the City of Tshwane.
For more information on the Tshwane Automotive Special Economic Zone visit: www.tasez.co.za