The Coega Development Corporation (Coega) last week attended the Manufacturing Indaba to gain first-hand insights into the emerging opportunities and existing challenges within the South African manufacturing sector.
As a leading catalyst for the championing of socio-economic development and a leading multi-sector investment destination, Coega is committed to ensuring an enabling environment for current and future Coega Special Economic Zone (SEZ) investors, says Dr Ayanda Vilakazi, Coega’s Unit Head of Marketing, Brand and Communications.
Results from the latest Statistics South Africa Coega SEZ Census Survey, indicate that the manufacturing sector is the largest employer in the SEZ, accounting for (3 563 or 60,5%) of jobs in the SEZ for the period 2020 to 2021. The Census also indicated that manufacturing accounted for just over 70 per cent of the total income across the SEZ for 2021, making it a priority sector in terms of job creation and socio-economic development.
Nolusindiso Jonas, Coega Business Development Manager, says that manufacturing is undoubtedly still a major driver of job creation in South Africa.
“Manufacturing activities boost the value generated in an economy by creating activity and jobs along value chains, from raw materials to processing, assembly, and packaging. While the world moves towards automation and tech-powered production lines, South African SEZs still place high importance on manual and automation processes which enable job creation.
“Currently, the Coega SEZ is home to several businesses in the manufacturing space, including Cemza, Coega Steels, Corro Master, VSL Laser, and Chemchamp Africa, to name a few.
“Soon, the Coega SEZ will be home to the multi-billion-rand Stellantis Auto Manufacturing Plant and Hive Hydrogen Green Ammonia Project, both of which will create thousands of jobs in the sector. To attract further investment in the manufacturing sector, we need to know how to unlock growth opportunities and synergies for these businesses,” added Jonas.
According to Jonas, load-shedding was one of the issues cited as a major obstacle to the progress of the sector. The Coega SEZ has implemented exemption from load-shedding up to stage 4, uninterrupted power supply at its Business Process Outsourcing Park, and a 24-hour load curtailment schedule.
Managing Director of Siyenza Events, Liz Hart, responsible for organising the Manufacturing Indaba, explained that the Coega SEZ was a key stakeholder at the event.
“It is important to profile the South African Development Zones to the Manufacturing Indaba audiences and have representatives available to meet with people interested in knowing more about Coega,” said Hart.
This week, Coega is represented at the AGOA “Made in Africa” Conference to gain further insights about the sector, form partnerships and explore trade opportunities with manufacturers from the continent and abroad.
The Coega Integrated Annual Report for the 2022/23 financial year reflected a total of 9 378 people employed in the Coega SEZ, from 8 046 in 2021 (StatsSA’s Coega Investor Survey). The latest 2023 Coega SEZ Census Survey, set to commence in November 2023, will indicate the proportion of these jobs attributable to manufacturing.
The Coega SEZ continues to thrive as a preferred investment destination, providing a competent workforce through vocational training programmes, and addressing industrial challenges while recognising the vital role of manufacturing in promoting prosperity and job creation across value chains.
Since its inception in 1999, the Coega SEZ has created more than 160,906 direct and indirect employment opportunities, significantly impacting local economic growth and improving the lives of communities, concluded Dr. Vilakazi.