Participants at the 2023 Smarter Mobility Africa Summit toured the factories based at the Tshwane Automotive Special Economic Zone on 4 October 2023 to get a glimpse into the future of the automotive industry.
The group, who attended the annual summit, were looking at how the automotive industry is adapting to new, innovative and technologically driven developments. The summit, now in its fifth year, takes place at the start of national Transport Month held every October.
This year’s theme for Transport Month is Siyakhe – we are building.
According to the Department of Transport, the month draws attention to the multiple transport infrastructure services from aviation and maritime to public transport and roads. It is also a time to highlight South Africa’s road safety campaigns and create awareness of the economic benefits of the sector. The focus for the month is on how the country can build a better transport infrastructure to grow South Africa together.
The delegates toured the Ford plant, looking at what the future holds in terms of new energy vehicles.
Welcoming the visitors to TASEZ – Africa’s first automotive city – the acting CEO, Rebecca Hlabatau emphasised how important the automotive industry is to growing South Africa’s economy and tackling the country’s triple threats of poverty, inequality and unemployment. “Integrated smarter mobility is central to growing our economy, creating decent jobs, increasing equality, and protecting the environment,” she noted.
TASEZ has a very important role in this regard as a special economic zone focused on supporting the transformation and development of the sector, Hlabatau added.
“We hope you have gained some insight into the enormity of the projects going on in the sector during your tour this morning, including seeing a glimpse at what TASEZ offers its investors.”
While creating an enabling environment for the manufacture of top-quality vehicles is crucial to what TASEZ offers, equally important is the creation of jobs for local communities.
The SA Automotive Masterplan
This is all in accordance with the South African Automotive Masterplan 2035. The plan has stipulated that the automotive industry must have made significant changes to ensure that South Africa can be a global role player.
Key to the Masterplan is a globally competitive and transformed industry that actively contributes to the sustainable development of South Africa’s productive economy, creating prosperity for industry stakeholders and broader society. With this in mind, the objectives identified in the Masterplan include South Africa producing 1% of the world’s vehicles, using 60% local content, and making sure that 100% of those employed by the manufacturers are South African.
“As we answer to those objectives, it is crucial for TASEZ to support young, emerging entrepreneurs to find ways to use their innovative and creative skills to come up with unexpected but relevant solutions to the changes in the sector.”
Although a relative newcomer to the special economic zones space, TASEZ has been playing an important role in making sure the Automotive Masterplan targets will be met.
By the end of 2022/23, TASEZ saw a total of R4,6-billion invested, against a forecast of R3,4-billion.
During this same time, the investors employed 2 425 people against a target of 1 688, bringing the total number of people currently employed within the zone to 3 028. More than 65% of these jobs come from the surrounding townships and consist of 39% woman and 52% youth. “And like Smarter Mobility Africa, we too believe that together we will be able to build a better transport system in South Africa that will grow the economy and create jobs,” Hlabatau concluded.