R150m optical fibre manufacturing facility opens in KwaZulu-Natal

14th December 2016 By: Megan van Wyngaardt - Creamer Media Contributing Editor Online

R150m optical fibre manufacturing facility opens in KwaZulu-Natal

Photo by: YOAC

A new R150-million optical fibre cable manufacturing and distribution facility located within the Dube TradePort special economic zone, in Durban, on Wednesday started operations, six months after construction started.

Trade and Industry Minister Dr Rob Davies welcomed the investment in the manufacturing facility by Chinese company Yangtze Optics Africa Cable (YOAC), noting that it would build local capacity in the manufacture of fibre-optic cables.

"[This] investment signifies that South Africa remains an attractive investment destination for hi-tech advanced manufacturing sectors and reinforces our collaboration on a bilateral level with China,” he said.

The new facility started functional testing of its production lines to ensure that it meets the international standards set by parent company Yangtze Optical Fibre and Cable, before commercial production starts in early 2017.

The new facility will serve the South African information and communications technology market, with an envisaged manufacturing capacity of more than one-million kilometres of optical fibre cable a year. It will also enable South Africa’s development of a sustainable broadband future, as cellular operators migrate to fourth-generation and long-term evolution and as demand increases.

KwaZulu-Natal has also accelerated access to broadband connectivity across the province. Since last year, just over 14 000 km of fibre-optic cable has been put in place, which currently connects hospitals, including 119 clinics and 1 624 schools in the province.

When fully operational in 2017, the manufacturing facility will create sustainable jobs for 100 people in the surrounding communities of Inanda, Ntuzuma, KwaMashu, Phoenix, Ottawa and Waterloo. This is in addition to the high-level technical skills development, which is the hallmark of YOAC’s skill development programme, that will take place over the next four years.

To date, YOAC has recruited 42 employees, many of them from local communities adjacent to the King Shaka International Airport.

“YOAC intends to create a further 80 employment opportunities in 2017. Nearly two-thirds of the employment opportunities created are technical positions, requiring additional technical skills transfer training,” Davies said.