Ramaphosa discovers Atlantis‚ and says it's SA's green launchpad

President Cyril Ramaphosa and Premier Helen Zille with workers from GRI Wind Towers at the launch of the Atlantis special economic zone on Thursday December 6, 2018
President Cyril Ramaphosa and Premier Helen Zille with workers from GRI Wind Towers at the launch of the Atlantis special economic zone on Thursday December 6, 2018
Image: Western Cape provincial government

President Cyril Ramaphosa's cavalcade on Thursday officially rolled into the industrial area of Atlantis outside Cape Town to launch the latest effort to open factories in SA.

The Atlantis special economic zone (SEZ)‚ approved by the cabinet in June‚ briefly hosted the country’s first citizen‚ who spoke to VIPs inside a marquee at a sports stadium after visiting a factory making parts for wind turbines.

While Ramaphosa spoke‚ a small crowd of locals jostled a police line outside the stadium‚ hoping to reach the president‚ who waved as he was whisked away after his address.

The 124.5ha Atlantis zone‚ one of nine countrywide‚ is a green technology hub that already hosts several investors.

To date‚ about 30 foreign and local companies have invested more than R500m in Atlantis‚ taking advantage of incentives attached to the area.

Each of the nine zones specialises in a specific sector. “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‚” Ramaphosa said in his address.

"These [zones] can contribute much to reshaping the spatial landscape of the apartheid economy.”

Incentives attached to the zones include VAT and customs exemptions and infrastructure support‚ Ramaphosa said.

He said he hoped the zones would also feed into opportunities created by the African Continental Free Trade Area‚ aimed at getting African nations manufacturing their own goods and trading with each other rather than importing goods from abroad.

Ramaphosa also highlighted investment success stories already achieved in Atlantis‚ which now has an investment pipeline of R2.4bn.

In the short-to-medium term this would create an estimated 1‚400 jobs in the area‚ he said.

“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 through partnerships like this one that we can succeed in building an enduring economy‚” Ramaphosa said.

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