EDEN DISTRICT NEWS - The Garden Route Investment Conference, where the region's investment potential will be showcased, began at Oubaai Hotel yesterday, 7 March and will continue today. This region is unique and the approach to stimulate the economy has had to be innovative.
According to Paul Hoffman, manager of the South Cape Economic Partnership (Scep), one of the possibilities that was investigated is to turn Eden's regional waste site next to PetroSA near Mossel Bay, into a biomass gas-generating plant. He said Swedish industrialists attending the conference are particularly interested in pursuing a project that was identified in the green energy category of investments.
The quest to draw investors to the region began over a year ago when Eden District Municipality's (EDM) executive mayor, Memory Booysen, accompanied by Hoffman and the municipal manager Monde Stratu, travelled to Sweden to discuss possible joint ventures.
The Swedes travelled to South Africa twice and Scep went through a similar process with Chinese companies.
A total of 50 possible projects were identified which include the following sectors: Tourism and related: 17 projects; natural products manufacturing: 1; agriculture and agri-processing: 10; waste beneficiation: 2; timber economy: 2; real estate, finance, business services and wholesale and retail: 7; ICT and Smart Cities: 3; aviation: 2; oil / gas and energy: 2; education and skills development: 3. Hoffman said the value of the proposed 50 investment projects amounts to R11-billion. "These proposals will be presented to 42 different investors and funders, matching their sector-specific mandates and investment values. To date, some of the investors already indicated their interest in 15 of these projects".
Winds of change
Booysen and Stratu said that the timing is excellent, as the positive winds of change within government provides impetus to capitalise on the renewed desire to develop our economy and bring about growth and job opportunities. "We have some unique products, services and possible investment offerings."
Apart from the delegations from Sweden and China, South African ambassadors to the Maldives, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh are attending the conference, as well as South African governmental role players like Transnet and Portnet.
Booysen said, "We want to say today that we are ready to do business and so are the other municipalities including Bitou, Knysna, George, Mossel Bay, Hessequa, Kannaland and Oudtshoorn."
He added that they had sent an invitation to President Cyril Ramaphosa months ago, before he was invested, "but we do understand if his schedule is simply too tight for him to attend."
Mossel Bay has been identified as a Special Economic Zone, as the potential for expanding the town's harbour to take the pressure from our other congested harbours was recognised by the South African government.
Sectors that are most likely to attract investment were identified. Booysen said during his visit to Sweden, industrialists had indicated they would be interested in investing in South Africa's renewable energy sources such as the regional (domestic) waste site next to PetroSA. It has potential to be developed in such a way that biomass energy could be generated synergistically in collaboration with PetroSA. "The technology at PetroSA is world class and investors are keen to look at getting on board," said Booysen.
The Swedish delegation has expressed interest in partnering with South Africa's business sector to develop waste beneficiation and clean energy. EDM's manager of Economic Development and Tourism, Melanie Wilson, said the opportunity for local small, medium and macro enterprises (SMMEs) to ready their products for export needs to be pursued during the course of the conference.
Desalination plants could be developed to increase water availability in the region. EDM foresees itself becoming the bulk water service providers and taking over the water authority position within the district. "We feel we have the capacity to do so," said the municipal manager, Monde Stratu.
EDM is spending R350 000 on the investment conference which has the support of corporate sponsors Standard Bank, Nedbank, Wesgro and eight other role players.
EDM's role players who are staging the Garden Route Investment Conference are, from left: Herman Pieters, Siphiwe Dladla, Melanie Wilson, Lusanda Menze, Memory Booysen, Monde Stratu, Paul Hoffman and Marillia Veldkornet.
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