Export zone proposal
THE Coega Development Corporation (CDC) has noted the opinion piece attributed to Centre for Development and Enterprise head Ann Bernstein (“Export processing zone could be big boost for Bay economy”, May 19). We have noted the assertions made, mainly on the “underutilised capacity of Coega” and the assertion made, though indirectly, on the alleged “failure by Coega”.
The presumptuous position of the author on the “underutilisation of Coega’s capacity” is based on analysis which the CDC is not privy to and as such would make it difficult to engage in, without understanding the premise of the statement.
It’s safe to say, though, the CDC has consistently demonstrated its capacity throughout its 17 years of existence. The CDC as early as 2008 diversified its service offering by becoming an implementing agent on behalf of government departments on infrastructure development programmes.
To date, the CDC has managed a portfolio of more than R10-billion (approximately R2.3-billion per annum) with no audit qualification from the auditor-general. The implementation of projects has also seen socio-economic and developmental areas being addressed such as SMME procurement – where in two successive financial years (FY) a total spend of 45.6% on SMMEs was achieved, 96 776 jobs created since inception, skills development and training saw 85 886 people trained and internship programmes in the FY 2015-16 employed 133 interns.
To demonstrate the CDC’s capacity, our outcomes-based approach on socio-economic development has over the years seen the CDC establish and implement a number of corporate social investment (CSI) programmes such as the maths and science programme, disabled people employed at CDC, social assistance to destitute families, women in Palmerton-Lusikisiki, early childhood development programme, and driver training programme. These projects have been implemented with the main objective of making a measurable, positive impact on the communities in which the CDC operates through investing in the development of disadvantaged communities.
All these programmes have a positive spin-off in education and skills development resulting in employment, economic growth and youth empowerment.
The maths and science programme is one of the CDC’s CSI programmes largely contributing to the community in terms of education and skills development, and has yielded more pupils undertaking studies in science, engineering and technology, thereby reducing the gap between supply and demand of critical and scarce skills.
The driver training programme is giving unemployed youth between the ages of 18 and 35 a much needed skills boost and improved employability. In the FY 2015-16 685 beneficiaries obtained their drivers’ licences.
In addition, the flagship programme assisted 2 349 beneficiaries to obtain their learners’ licences, while a further 1 675 benefited from driver training using the simulator centre.
The CDC has managed to train and secure employment for more than 18 employees living with disabilities.
The Palmerton Women Empowerment Programme in Lusikisiki benefits more than 30 women. It provides skills development and training through business ventures such as entrepreneurship and training in shoemaking, sewing, jewellery-making, pottery, etc.
The Coega internship programme targets youth, mainly young graduates. The CDC has in the FY 2015-16 employed 133 interns for a period of 18 months.
The interns are afforded a mentor to guide and mentor them.
Regarding the alleged failure of Coega, the CDC has on countless occasions shown immeasurable success consistent with its key performance indicators. The CDC understands the responsibility of economic growth lies with all those who wholeheartedly put their best foot forward when required to do so.
This philosophy is entrenched in the CDC’s work culture as it is premised on the tangible realisation of the vision of the CDC – to become the leading catalyst for championing of socio-economic development, in the Nelson Mandela Bay region and the country at large.
The CDC has performed relatively well despite the macro-economic challenges facing the domestic and global markets. The reflections by the UN Conference on Trade and Development that foreign direct investment (FDI) into South Africa last year dropped by 74% translate to strenuous economic times for the country.
The reality is that South Africa drew $1.5-billion (R24.7-billion) in foreign direct investment last year, less than Nigeria and/or Mozambique. In addition, the whole of the African continent is experiencing economic challenges, according to the World Bank and IMF.
The CDC, like many other organisations in South Africa and the world’s developing countries, has found the current economic landscape not conducive to stimulating investment and growth. Despite this, the CDC has managed to ensure continued growth and sustainability.
The CDC has achieved numbers not seen by any other IDZ in Southern Africa – in the last three years the CDC signed 37 new investors with a combined value of R4.94-billion and created 44 465 jobs, well exceeding its targets over the same period for investment and jobs. Furthermore, the CDC has developed an investment pipeline valued at R181-billion – these are projects under discussions with the various companies locally and internationally.
The CDC’s contribution to job creation has seen the organisation win a number of national prestigious awards, including the Job Creation Award presented at the 14th Annual Oliver Empowerment Awards and at the annual Exporters Club (Exporters of the Year) awards last year. The CDC also won the Legends of Empowerment and Transformation, Top Empowered: Vision 2030 Award and the Top Empowered: Job Creation Award at the 15th Annual Oliver Empowerment Awards held this year.
In this financial year, 2016-17, the CDC is projecting to add at least another R2-billion, which will increase investment value to more than R8-billion. In the 2017-18 FY, the CDC is projecting to increase investment value to R10-billion, which would be a significant milestone for the organisation.