KwaZulu-Natal is open for business with a keen focus on oil and gas, the BRICS Business Council investment opportunities conference heard on Sunday.
Speaking in Durban at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre, acting KwaZulu-Natal Premier, Sihle Zikalala, told the guests that included members of the diplomatic corps, as well as delegates from Brazil, Russia, China, and India and business and labour leaders that the provincial government was “sharply focusing on the oceans economy”, which included offshore oil and gas exploration and shipping.
He said over the next seven years government would also be investing more than R200 billion into the province for infrastructure development.
This would include investment in roads, air-freight, rail, basic services infrastructure and the maritime industry. Zikalala called for “partnerships between the public and the private sectors to maximise investments and grow the economy”, using infrastructure as a catalyst.
The Durban conference is one of many that have been held across the country in the build up to the 10th BRICS Summit to take place in Johannesburg next week, which will be attended by the member states’ political leaders.
“We wish to indicate that the oil and gas industry presents many opportunities for partnerships in this province. The Richards Bay Industrial Development Zones which is located in the Port of Richards Bay is being developed as a site and an anchor for energy infrastructure – especially gas.
“We need to co-ordinate our work such that we are able to develop this industry for the benefit of our respective countries and this province. We are fully aware as the KZN government that the South African energy sector has been, and continues to be, at the centre of the country’s development,” said Zikalala.
Zikalala, who was standing in for KZN Premier Willies Mchunu, said without energy, socio-economic development would be hampered.
“We recognise modern energy as being a critical issue for human development and it should be considered as a basic right. We are of the view that modern energy should therefore be provided on the basis of justice for the poor and the marginalised.”
He told delegates that the province is “open for business” with the “KZN One Stop Shop (OSS) conveniently located in Durban” to provide “an easy point of entry for potential investors”.
“With two of South Africa’s Special Economic Zones at Dube Trade Port and the Richards Bay Industrial Development Zone, the province offers an attractive corporate tax regime that ensures greater value for investors.”
Zikalala, who is the KwaZulu-Natal chairperson of the provincial African National Congress (ANC) and the MEC for the province’s Department of Economic Development and Tourism, said KZN has also embarked on an ambitious Aerotropolis development plan at the Dube Trade Port and King Shaka International Airport.
“We are creating a nucleus of an airport city that leverages integrated air services, cargo handling and logistics, together with a manufacturing footprint to ensure fast and easy access for goods into the rest of South Africa, Africa and the world,” said Zikalala.
He said the provincial government was eager to develop local economies throughout the country to “rebuild municipalities” so that they become “dynamic engines of economic development”.
He added that the province also wants to “affirm our commitment to ensure that our academic institutions collaborate with academics in the member countries”, while holding onto the goal of ensuring there is “a massive production of appropriate skills” necessary to drive growth.
– African News Agency (ANA)