Botshabelo Industrial Park in the Free State has attracted investments to the tune of more than R500 billion because of the revitalisation programme being rolled out by the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (dtic).
The upgrading of the park is part of the dtic’s Revitalisation of Industrial Parks Programme, which is implemented throughout the country to renovate state-owned industrial parks located in historically disadvantaged areas.
This was announced by the Property Manager of the Free State Development Corporation (FDC), Edgar Kgaile on Monday while he was briefing a stakeholder delegation from the dtic, led by the Deputy Director-General of Spatial Industrial Development and Economic Transformation, Sipho Zikode, the Development of Southern Africa (DBSA), and the Free State Department of Economic, Small Business Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (Destea).
The objectives of the programme include promoting industrialisation, attracting investments, increasing the occupancy rate of the parks, driving retention and expansion, and addressing inequality, noted Kgaile.
According to Zikode, the department has invested R760 million in industrial parks across the country through the revitalisation programme since its inception in 2015.
The project is implemented in phases with the first focusing on upgrading the parks’ security features.
Phase one of the Botshabelo Industrial Park was approved for R24 million funding and was the first industrial park to reach completion.
The second phase was approved for almost R50 million and construction started in September last year and is expected to be completed in December 2020.
“Since the completion of phase one of the revitalisation, the Botshabelo Industrial Park has welcomed 25 investors, investing a total amount of R201 million. The total number of jobs created is 1 360.
“In the pipeline, we have six investors and one of them, Hangda Trading, will be investing R300 million in steel smelter construction and employing 2 000 people. The construction of the smelter has already begun,” said Kgaile.
The occupancy of the park has increased to 75.5% as a result of the positive impact of the upgrading.
Kgaile indicated the revitalisation programme is envisaged to create more than 5 000 direct job opportunities as well as other indirect job opportunities in related areas such as transport, food and beverages, manufacturing, and the construction industry.
“Out of the 144 factories we have in the park, 108 of them are occupied and operational. The project has completely changed the image of the park and the perception many business people had about it. We are continuously receiving enquiries from business people that want to locate their businesses in the park,” he pointed out.
He added, “The two phases of the upgrading of the park have made it attractive to investors. As a result, stakeholders are already in discussion over the third phase which will be rolled out to boost the electrical capacity of the park to meet the growing demand.”
The Botshabelo Industrial Park will also house a state-of-the-art digital hub that has been funded to the tune of R5 million by the Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda), an agency of the Department of Small Business Development.
Seda is currently hosting activations and boot camps in Thaba Nchu, Botshabelo and Bloemfontein to create awareness about the digital hub and to identify young people who will receive training as part of developing entrepreneurs in innovation to equip them for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
The dtic is also establishing digital hubs in upgraded industrial parks to provide the youth and the unemployed access to information and communication technology, and other facilities that will move them closer to business and job opportunities.