The Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (DTIC) has invested more than R760-million in its Industrial Parks Revitalisation Programme since its inception in 2015.
The department, together with stakeholders, are in the process of establishing digital hubs in a number of industrial parks and special economic zones (SEZs), as well as an industrial parks association, which will serve as a platform for all parks to share their experiences and challenges.
The revitalisation programme is geared towards creating jobs, promoting industrialisation and transformation, accelerating economic growth, attracting investment and establishing black industrialists in the parks.
The parks are all located in rural areas and townships, enabling people to seek work closer to where they are based, instead of having to use various modes of public transport to get to work in cities.
Phase 1 of the programme envisioned the revitalisation of 27 parks across South Africa, Engineering News reported in October last year, with up to four phases due to follow on the first phase, involving various types of infrastructure upgrades, including security and energy infrastructure, through to clustering factories within the parks.
Providing an update on the programme, DTIC spatial industrial development deputy director-general Sipho Zikode on July 8 said the programme had assisted industrial parks to retain and grow their tenants.
The companies, in turn, have been able to develop long-term employment and retained already existing jobs within the parks.
The industrial parks within the programme employ more than 65 000 people.
“The work currently under way by the DTIC and the National Treasury in the industrial parks space has highlighted the importance of a very strong, visionary governance and management within these industrial parks. There are still many management gaps that need to be addressed; however, many parks are doing well in terms of planning, development and management,” stated Zikode.
He acknowledged, however, that there were other parks and some SEZs the department is supporting that were struggling – hence the need for forums where stakeholders could all come together and discuss issues going forward.
“If we work as a joint team in government, which will include all levels of government, across sectors, industry and the community, then we will be able to use infrastructure development for the growth and the resuscitation of our country even after the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The pandemic has dismantled a lot of industrial activity and impacted on supply chains in the past few months and it is therefore imperative that we enhance investment in our industrial spaces and look at how we define these spaces to reimagine them in a manner that will re-develop our economies,” Zikode stated.