Saki Macozoma leads big initiative

Vuyolwethu Sangotsha

Vuyolwethu Sangotsha

Eastern Cape Premier Nosimo Balindlela has named a high-level team to drive a major new investment initiative aimed at the under-developed eastern half of the province.

The chairman of the board of the new company, Asgisa (Eastern Cape), is Standard Bank and Volkswagen South Africa board member Saki Macozoma.

Among the other board members are Wiseman Nkuhlu, chairman of the Nepad steering committee and former economic advisor to President Thabo Mbeki, and Gloria Serobe, chief executive of Wipcapital and founder and director of the women's empowerment group, Wiphold.

Also on the board are Coega Development Corporation chief executive Pepi Silinga and Eastern Cape MEC for economic affairs Mbulelo Sogoni.

The board is supported by the premier's economic advisor, Kevin Wakeford - who will also head up the new task team appointed to turn around the troubled Home Affairs Department - and Andrew Murray, chief executive of the Eastern Cape socioeconomic consultative council.

"We are fortunate that we have been able to attract some of South Africa's best business people to help us in turning this programme into reality by serving as board members," said Balindlela.

"For many of them this is a labour of love because they were born in the province and want to see its people prosper," she said.

Centred on the former Transkei and South Africa's largest undammed river, the Umzimvubu, the economic development initiative is aimed at generating investment of R60billion into the region in the next 10 years under the umbrella of the Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative for South Africa (Asgisa).

Key to the initiative is the identification of Mthatha as the third economic development hub in Eastern Cape, after Coega and East London industrial development zones.

Balindlela said the initiative would mobilise private and public sector investment for projects that will benefit from the region's high yearly rainfall and its large labour reservoir, while contributing to job creation in the formal sector.

It will also help in the further industrialisation of this rural part of the province.

A major dam on the Umzimvubu River will be built to generate 2000 megawatts of electricity and be at the heart of an irrigation scheme benefiting a large part of the former Transkei.