Multi-billion-rand projects boost for EC
30 March 2020 | Web Article Number: ME202018531
RECENT National Treasury approval for seven infrastructure projects, worth a combined R1.4 billion in the Coega Special Economic Zone (SEZ), is just one aspect of a plan to inject more than R10 billion in the Oceans Economy of the Eastern Cape.
The investment will be sorely needed, with the province in the grips of a crippling drought and the economy already sluggish even before the Coronavirus crisis.
The projects to be funded are a desalination plant; water infrastructure at various zones in the Coega SEZ, electrical infrastructure for various zones in the Coega SEZ, bulk sewer infrastructure in those zones, a pipeline connection for the Motherwell sewer line, wastewater treatment works and tank farm infrastructure.
Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane said in his state of the province address that the special economic zones in Port Elizabeth and East London would play instrumental roles in stemming unemployment in the province, now estimated to stand at 39.5% and likely to climb further as COVID-19 measures start to take effect.
Coega Development Corporation (CDC) spokesperson Dr Ayanda Vilakazi said the seven catalytic projects would unlock huge economic benefits for the province as they expanded beyond the metro area. “This has further shown the capacity that the CDC has in being able to deliver projects and ensure that it can produce compelling business cases,” he said.
The seven projects will be complemented by and, in some cases, overlap with the Eastern Cape government’s oceans economy master plan that it estimates will inject R10.4 billion into the provincial economy.
The master plan is funded by the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries and developed with the assistance of the Nelson Mandela University (NMU). It aims to push the province’s GDP, currently growing at the rate of 2.8%, to 5% and increase investment from 16.5% of GDP to 27.1% by 2030. Another aims to reduce unemployment poverty.
The master plan comprises four centrepiece documents:
- A baseline study outlining the rationale for the selection of catalytic projects to grow the province’s economy and create jobs
- A research agenda which provides decision-makers with reliable data and updated information to facilitate informed decisions
- A strategic road map which sets the 20-year policy trajectory and implementation plan of the oceans economy over the next 20 years; and
- A Bid/Investment book for the mobilisation of resources and investments to fund the oceans economy catalytic projects.
A significant milestone towards this goal has already been reached, with the CDC recently receiving Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) approval for a 440-hectare land-based Aquaculture Development Zone (ADZ) and desalination plant in Zone 10 of the Coega SEZ.
“The approval of the EIA is a major leap towards fulfilling the Coega SEZ’s vision to locate one of the largest ADZ’s in South Africa on one geographical footprint in the Coega SEZ and respond to the severe water shortages experienced by Nelson Mandela Bay (NMB),” said Dr Keith du Plessis CDC Manager: Project Development.
He said it had been found that failure by especially smaller companies to obtain EIA approval often result in projects never seeing the light of day. Because of this, the aquaculture sector in SA is largely untapped and underperforming.
“The approved EIA relieves the financial burden from the investor as it would ordinarily take up to two years for companies seeking to establish an aquaculture facility and or a desalination plant at the Coega SEZ. This is evidence of the CDC’s value proposition as a plug and play environment, where investors have shortened timeframes from when they enquire about investing to when they have access to market,” he said.
It’s a timely development. The NMB Municipality recently revealed that water levels of the metro’s supply dams have reached an all-time low of just above 24 percent. The CDC now has authorisation to develop facilities for the desalination of water with a maximum capacity of 60 million litres per day.
“This capacity, if tapped into, could provide for almost a quarter of Nelson Mandela Metro’s current water consumption needs (currently at approximately 260 Ml/day). The CDC is a capable and potential solution to the water problems experienced in the metro,” Du Plessis said.
He added that costs associated with desalination were often viewed as a major obstacle to an extensive rollout of the technology, but that major strides had been made in this regard over the past few years that have seen the costs coming down substantially.