Chinese white goods and consumer-electronics company Hisense officially opened its new factory in the Western Cape on Thursday, where it will produce flat-panel televisions and refrigerators.
The 25 200 m2 facility is the group’s sixth manufacturing plant outside of China and its nineteenth plant in total. In 2012, Hisense, which was founded in 1969 to produce radios, recorded sales of $12.8-billion in more than 130 countries.
Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel, Western Cape Premier Helen Zille, China’s Ambassador to South Africa Tian Xuejun and China-Africa Development Fund VP Lu Quingcheng attended the opening, which marked a R350-million investment into South Africa by the company.
The South African government is prioritising manufacturing as part of its various economic interventions, which include industrial financing and incentives schemes.
Patel has described manufacturing as a “critical part of a job-rich growth path” and emphasises that attracting foreign direct investment from the country’s Brics trade-bloc partners, Brazil, Russia, India and China, is one of a number of steps being taken to step up industrialisation.
The Atlantis-based plant currently employs 300 people, who are being exposed to a skills-transfer programme overseen by Hisense technicians and engineers.
Hisense VP Dr Lan Lin indicated that employee numbers should expand to around 1 000 over the coming three to five years, with the group considering the expansion of local production to include air-conditioning units and washing machines – the company owns 100 000 m2 of land in Atlantis.
Hisense entered the South African market in 1996 and it reports that during 2012, it sold more than 140 000 panel televisions and 170 000 refrigerators.