Building projects at the Coega Industrial Development Zone outside Port Elizabeth have injected over R1.2-billion into South Africa’s Eastern Cape construction industry over the past two quarters, in the process creating over 2 500 jobs, the state-owned Coega Development Corporation (CDC) said last week.
Six major construction projects are currently under way in the Coega IDZ, including Chinese auto maker First Automobile Works’ new R200-million plant, food service group Famous Brands Famous Brands’ new cold storage plant, DCD Group’s wind tower manufacturing plant, the addition of Coega Cheese onto the Coega Dairy outfit, Agni Steels’ R400-million smelter facility, and Rehau’s extension in the Nelson Mandela Bay Logistics Park.
Industrial gas company Air Products South Africa is also about to begin construction of a R300-million state-of-the-art air separation unit in July, bringing the total number of projects being built to seven.
“The global economic climate is still not stable, yet investment continues to flow into the Coega IDZ,” CDC spokesperson Ayanda Vilakazi said in a statement. “We currently have 20 operational investors, and once these seven construction projects are complete, we will be up to 27 operational investors by mid-2014.”
Vilakazi said the Famous Brands project, which was nearest completion, was a prime example of the short conversion times between signing a lease to full operation at Coega.
“The turnaround times are much quicker now than they were a couple of years ago, and we are able to construct buildings for investors relatively quickly, meaning that they move to operational phase within about a year of signing, depending on this size of the project.”
Vilakazi said that FAW’s R200-million plant construction would create about 2 000 jobs over the year-long project, which was on track for completion in December. In its operational phase, the truck assembly plant would create a further 280 permanent jobs.
According to Arnie van Jaarsveldt of WBHO Construction, the lead contractor on the FAW project, there was significant collaboration between the Chinese engineers and their South African counterparts working on the plant, representing “a coup for skills development and mentorship”.
Vilakazi said that Agni Steels was also nearing completion of its R400-million steel plant in the industrial development zone. On completion, the high-tech smelting facility will produce mild steel billets from scrap metal.
DCD Group, meanwhile, is in the early phases of its R300-million wind tower factory, which is expected to employ 168 workers and produce between 110 and 120 wind towers annually.