Address by President Cyril Ramaphosa at the launch of the Atlantis Special Economic Zone, Atlantis, Western Cape
Programme Director, Minister Lindiwe Zulu,
Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Rob Davies,
Minister of Economic Development, Mr Ebrahim Patel,
Premier of the Western Cape, Ms Helen Zille,
City of Cape Town Executive Mayor, Mr Dan Plato,
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure to be here today at the dawn of a new era for the community of Atlantis.
The Atlantis Special Economic Zone, which we are launching today, is an integral part of our effort to reignite economic growth by attracting investment and creating jobs.
We know that without significant economic growth, we will not be able to create work for the people of the province and the country, and without substantially higher rates of investment, we will not achieve growth.
We have therefore embarked on a range of measures to mobilise investment into our economy.
And we are working to direct that investment to those industries that have the greatest potential for sustainable growth and to those parts of the country that have the most to benefit.
The Special Economic Zone programme has been identified as one of the critical economic policy instruments for promoting industrialisation.
The nine SEZs that have been designated as part of this programme have several important features.
They are located in areas both of need and opportunity.
They are being established close to where our people live, where there is often deep poverty and where there is a great demand for jobs.
At the same time, these sites have been selected for their proximity to ports, logistics hubs, related industry or raw materials.
Most of the SEZs focus on a specific industry, encouraging the development of clusters of suppliers and service providers.
By concentrating industrial value chains in these areas, collaboration is encouraged and costs are significantly reduced.
These SEZs can contribute much to reshaping the spatial landscape of the apartheid economy.
Importantly, these SEZs attract foreign and domestic direct investment into the productive economy through a range of benefits.
The SEZ programme is supported by a competitive incentive package, which includes, among others, a 15% corporate tax incentive, employment tax incentive, accelerated depreciation allowance, VAT and customs exemption, and infrastructure support.
The special economic zones are key to unlocking the country’s competitive and comparative advantages.
The programme has so far managed to generate R11.6 billion worth of private investments into the SEZs.
There were 115 operational investors in the SEZs at the end of the second quarter.
As we develop these special economic zones, we need to be expanding the range of our ambition.
We need to see these zones as manufacturing hubs for the entire African continent, capable of reaching and servicing a rapidly growing market for goods and services.
We need to seize the opportunities presented by the African Continental Free Trade Area and by the continent’s need for massive infrastructure investment.
The Atlantis Special Economic Zone was conceived as an integrated and sustainable economic development intervention in a region with both great promise and several social challenges.
Atlantis used to be an area designated for special tax incentives, and was successful in creating industries and jobs.
We are certain that these successes can be repeated and surpassed.
The launch of the Atlantis SEZ is the culmination of an extensive process of consultation and technical evaluation.
It is the product of close cooperation between different spheres of government working together towards the realisation of a common goal.
The public consultation process involved stakeholders such as organised labour, business and the broader community.
In giving approval for the designation of this SEZ, Cabinet set out two main conditions.
Firstly, the Zone must have community and organised labour representatives on the entity’s board.
Secondly, the local community and SMMEs must be prioritised in the SEZ’s job creation and empowerment programme.
This is part of our commitment to put people first as key drivers of the economy.
I am pleased to note that the process of ensuring community representation and promoting SMMEs is at an advanced stage.
The fundamental premise of the Atlantis SEZ is to unlock the underlying economic value of existing and underutilised infrastructure through the creation of a green tech manufacturing hub.
This includes exploiting its strategic location with its access to major national roads.
Its proximity to two ports, in Cape Town and Saldanha, provides advantages for exporters.
The Atlantis SEZ is expected to grow the green tech sector in the Western Cape more broadly and revitalise Atlantis as a key industrial node in the region.
The Atlantis Zone has already attracted four large green tech investors, which are fully operational.
Gestamp Renewable Industries, which we visited this morning, was the first of these investments.
The company invested R300 million and has created about 220 jobs in Atlantis.
The other investors are Resolux with an investment of R25 million, Kaytech with an investment of R130 million, and Skyward Windows with an investment of R50 million.
In addition to secured investments, The Atlantis Zone has an investment pipeline valued at R2.4 billion.
In the short to medium term, the zone is projected to create over 1,400 jobs in Atlantis.
Through manufacturing, job multipliers are estimated to rise to about 4,500 for the West Coast region.
The Atlantis Zone programme clearly demonstrates what we can collectively achieve when we take an integrated approach to economic development.
We must continue to harness the power of initiatives such as the Atlantis Zone, which bring together business, organised labour and government in a single marketplace.
It is only through partnerships like this one that we can succeed in building an enduring economy.
It is only through mobilising our collective resources that we can have the financial means to invest in businesses and jobs.
It is the interests of our people that we must promote above all else.
It is their wellbeing and their prosperity to which we must dedicate our every effort and our every capability.
That is why we need investment across South Africa, why we must work together, and why we are launching this Atlantis Special Economic Zone today for our people.
I thank you.