Special Economic Zone

TASEZ CEO draws from the past to build a future of self-respect and dignity

On this Mandela Day Dr Bheka Zulu, the CEO of the Tshwane Automotive Special Economic Zone (TASEZ), reflects on the legacy left by Tata Nelson Mandela in building a South Africa that truly reaches its full potential. Today, 18 July, we make time to reflect on the profound impact Nelson Mandela had on our country, and indeed, the world. His wise words flowed in many directions, sharing his experiences, teaching his philosophies, and touching wide and diverse topics. But none of these words were more important that those regarding the youth of this country. Speaking at a rededication of a school in the Eastern Cape in 1995, Madiba said: “Our children are the rock on which our future will be built, our greatest asset as a nation. They will be the leaders of our country, the creators of our national wealth, those who care for and protect our people. “But if they are to take on this great responsibility, the rich potential in every child must be developed into the skills and the knowledge that our society needs. Education is the key to that process. It is also a door which opens from every village and city onto our larger society and indeed onto the whole world.” It is heartbreaking to look at the challenges facing the youth right now; with low economic growth, high unemployment, and lingering poverty and inequality. That South Africa’s economy has been constrained is nothing new, with the Reserve Bank’s growth expectations for 2024 and 2025 sitting at 1.2% and 1.3% respectively. These rates are not nearly enough to help the country grow jobs and create business opportunities for small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs). The statistics are harsh, with young South Africans bearing the brunt of these issues. Unemployment among the youth – people between the ages of 15 and 34 – totalled 4.9 million in the first quarter of 2023, according to figures released by Statistics South Africa in May. The youth unemployment rate sits at 46,5%. According to Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) “South Africa, like many countries globally, grapples with the challenge of youth unemployment. This is supported by statistics indicating a 45,5% unemployment rate among young individuals (aged 15-34 years), in contrast to the national average of 32,9% in the first quarter of 2024.” The automotive industry plays a strategic role in growing South Africa’s economy. In 2021 it contributed 4.3% to South Africa’s GDP, with the export of vehicles and automotive components reaching a record R207.5 billion – equating to 12.5% of South Africa’s total exports. Becoming globally competitive and transformed But much more is expected from the sector. The South African Automotive Masterplan’s (SAAM’s) vision is to create “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”. Targets set include: It is against this background that TASEZ needs to stand up and play its part in growing the automotive industry alongside helping young South Africans develop the skills and experience they need to gain work in the ever-evolving sector. To quote Mandela, from a President’s Budget Debate in Parliament in 1996: “Jobs, jobs and jobs are the dividing line in many families between a decent life and a wretched existence. They are, to many, the difference between self-esteem and helplessness.” Beyond job creation, the establishment of SMMEs across the country is critical; driving growth, providing employment opportunities, and opening new markets. South Africa sets a great store on the SMME sector as a driver of economic development and growth. In the National Development Plan 2030, SMMEs are identified as having the potential to contribute between 60% to 80% to the country’s gross domestic product growth and employ 90% of the workforce. The NPD, which has set a target of 24 million people in employment by 2030. Of that, 21.6 million people would be in SMMEs. Youth development is a key component of TASEZ’s business case, with our SEZ helping boost the economies of our neighbouring communities of Eersterust, Mamelodi and Nelmapius, providing job opportunities and training programmes for young South Africans and emerging SMMEs. TASEZ’s Phase 1 development saw 3 244 permanent jobs in the automotive manufacturing sector created, with a further 5 071 jobs in construction. SMME procurement spend totalled R1.7-billion. As the SEZ continues to grow, more job will arise, along with SMME procurement opportunities. In addition, TASEZ is planning to create an automotive incubation programme and focus on skills development in support of Tier 1 and Tier 2 suppliers along with expanding the hub and creating 3 000 new jobs. What we need to be aware of is that these are not merely numbers and statistics to us – each job created or project supported represents real families and community members living secure lives with dignity and self-respect. Picking up the baton from Madiba, we know that we have to be daringly ambitious and resolutely committed to contributing our South Africa’s growth, expanding beyond our borders to impacting regional and African development.

MEC tours TASEZ, sees firsthand how SEZs can help accelerate reindustrialisation

Special economic zones (SEZs) are ideally placed to help accelerate the country’s much-needed industrialisation, securing foreign direct investment that can be used to create jobs, develop infrastructure and boost local economies. Africa’s first automotive city, the Tshwane Automotive Special Economic Zone, is one of these key drivers. SEZs are viewed as key instruments to making South Africa an attractive option for foreign direct investments. SEZs are important instruments in advancing the country’s strategic objectives of industrialisation, regional development, the promotion of exports and job creation. Tuesday, 16 July 2024 saw the Gauteng MEC for economic development and treasury, Lebogang Maile, visit three of the 12 factories currently based in the SEZ – Ford Frame, Feltex, and Sodecia – to see for himself what the zone provides. TASEZ was established through a committed investment and against a very tight deadline – and during Covid 19 – setting the bar for the development of new SEZs in South Africa. From its beginnings in the dusty veld on the outskirts of Silverton in 2020, to seeing the first cars come off the production line in November 2022, TASEZ has shown just what can be achieved with a solid investor and strong leadership from all three tiers of government. Looking to expand, Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa committed to a R16-billion investment to produce an extra 40 000 vehicles a year, moving from 160 000 units to 200 000 units annually. Supporting Ford’s investment was the political will to drive the project and ensure its success. All three tiers of government become equal shareholders, each with clearly defined roles. The factories based in the SEZ all produce components for Ford, with a focus on just-in-time and just-in-sequence systems. The first phase of TASEZ’s development saw the creation of 3 244 permanent jobs within the zone, with more than 65% from the surrounding communities: 32% going to women and 65.4% by the youth. In addition, more than 5 071 construction jobs were created. “This is in line with the department’s objective of strengthening access into the economy for marginal communities,” Maile noted. “This brings the total of direct jobs created through SEZ to over 8 000 direct jobs resulting in more than 18 396 indirect jobs.” TASEZ CEO Dr Bheka Zulu said: “We are aware of the important role SEZs play in helping to accelerate reindustrialisation of our economic hubs.” He added: “TASEZ is well-placed to help create jobs, support our local communities and boost their economies, and share knowledge and skills.” TASEZ’s Phase 1 also saw 256 opportunities ring-fenced for small, medium and micro enterprises, totalling R1.7-billion in procurement spend. The SEZ is now focusing on its Phase 2 development, and embracing the challenges the South African automotive manufacturing sector faces, in growing the sector, creating jobs, providing access to skills development, ensuring materials and jobs are localised, and including the requirements need for the era of new energy vehicles (NEVs). Over the next two years, Ford will be investing an additional R5.2-billion for the production of the first-ever Ranger plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV).

TASEZ greets new Gauteng MEC, views operations

Gauteng’s newly-appointed member of the provincial executive council (MEC) for economic development and treasury, Lebogang Maile made time to the meet the Tshwane Automotive Special Economic Zone’s (TASEZ) executive team and familiarise himself with the special economic zone’s operations. Close relationships with strategic partners is vital to the SEZ, with the Gauteng government being one of the three government partners in TASEZ. As TASEZ chairperson Lionel October explained: “The establishment of Africa’s first automotive city was a pilot project of new integrated strategic partnerships to be used by SEZs in South Africa.” Central to its development is the three-tier partnership between national government that focuses on the high-level structure, the provincial government that provides funding for the infrastructure within the zone, and the local government that provides infrastructure such as roads and electricity into the zone. This catalysed the financial investment put into the project by the Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa as part of its plans to double the production of its vehicles in Silverton, City of Tshwane, by 40 000 units, to 200 000 units annually. The SEZ completed the first phase of its development in a mere 18 months – and during Covid-19 – using a R24-billion investment in setting up an automotive manufacturing zone that currently has 12 fully operational facilities and employs 3 500 people. MEC Maile, who met the TASEZ team, including CEO Dr Bheka Zulu and CFO Rebecca Hlabatau, on Friday 12 July 2024, is immersing himself in his extensive and economically critical portfolio. The Gauteng Department of Economic Development is tasked with leading, facilitating and managing sustainable job creation and inclusive economic growth and development in the Gauteng city region. And SEZs, as important instruments in advancing the country’s strategic objectives of industrialisation, regional development, the promotion of exports and job creation, have an important role to play – they are key to making South Africa an attractive option for foreign direct investments. “Our special economic zones programme, supported by intensive investment promotion, will be utilised to accelerate the re-industrialisation of the Gauteng city region,” Maile said.

The TASEZ breakaway discussion team at the Tshwane Energy Summit 2024: the CEO of the AIDC Andile Africa, TASEZ's CEO Dr Bheka Zulu, the NAAMSA's chief policy officer Tshetle Litheko, and the co-founder of the Mobility Centre for Africa Vincent Radebe

TASEZ hosts vital and vibrant discussion on new energy vehicles

New energy vehicles loom large in the discussions on the evolving automotive manufacturing landscape – but the time for the internal combustion engine is not yet over. Two experts from the industry discussed the important topics of whether the legacy original equipment manufacturers are being left behind by disruptive innovators like Tesla and BYD, and the new energy vehicle landscape in a South African context during a breakaway session at this year’s Tshwane Energy Summit on Thursday, 20 June 2024, held in Menlyn Maine, Pretoria. The breakaway session was hosted by the Tshwane Automotive Special Economic Zone, Africa’s first automotive city and an important player in the country’s automotive manufacturing sector. Introducing the session, TASEZ CEO Dr Bheka Zulu provided the insight into the new energy vehicle (NEV) landscape globally and locally. “We all know that the NEV space has been growing. In the last year, if you compare figures from the first quarter of last year, it grew by 8.7% – units that have grown from 1 665 to 2 220. And in the second quarter, that number grew to 3 042. These are the some of the figures that show the demand and the need for the sector to grow.” He noted a number of important milestones in the drive towards cleaner energy: the publication in 2023 of a White Paper on NEVs aimed at unlocking the potential of South Africa’s NEV market; the fact that 2024 marks a centenary of manufacturing in South Africa – and Ford is celebrating its 100 years in South Africa. Opportunities available in NEV space The NEV space is one that can open opportunities in unexpected ways, Dr Zulu noted, such as the “last mile” programmes that have rolled out across South Africa delivering goods to the consumers’ doors via scooters or motorbikes. This is particularly important in growing the township economy. Although a critical element, NEVs are not confined to passenger vehicles but will also impact public transport and freight and logistics, Dr Zulu said. South Africa exports the majority of its vehicles, so it needs to comply with the clean energy regulations set by it external markets. For example, Europe has set stringent regulations that have to be met by the automotive manufacturers: it will require 55% lower carbon-dioxide emissions from 2030, with a target of zero from 2035. Mobility Centre for Africa co-founder Victor Radebe delivered a thought-provoking talk asking are the legacy OEMs sleeping at the wheel in the face of disruptive innovation by front-runners such as Tesla and BYD. Using the work of academic and business consultant Clayton Christensen, Radebe dived into the concepts surrounding “disruptive innovation” noting that “it’s like a tidal wave that strips over established industries creating new markets, whilst leaving old ones in its wake.” Disruptive innovation starts humbly, often ignored or dismissed by established companies. But then it marches on, transforming the landscape and toppling giants, Radebe said. “Christensen’s The Innovators Dilemma explains why many established firms, despite their resources and expertise, find themselves in this predicament hesitating at the edge of innovation,” Radebe said, adding: “This is where legacy OEMs find themselves.” Rise of the NEVs The automotive manufacturing industry is currently experiencing a seismic shift driven by the electrifying rise of NEVs. “Legacy OEMs are finding themselves in the slow lane compared to speed stars like to Tesla and BYD.” This technological race is not just about who gets to the finish line first, but who can navigate the twists and turns of innovation without losing control, Radebe noted. One of the innovations of NEVs is that the manufacturers build most of their parts, whereas the biggest OEMs rely on a supply chain of multiple suppliers from across the globe. Radebe looked at the potential drivers for change: Another important element is that of the minerals required to make the batteries required by the NEVs. “If you look at the upstream supply chain, China controls the extraction of the of the raw materials. They control the processing of the raw materials.” The beneficiation of minerals is a hot topic in South Africa that will have to form part of a more in-depth negotiation. “The future outlook of the automotive industry will be shaped by those who dare to navigate the choppy waters of innovation in geopolitical, geopolitical uncertainties,” Radebe said. “Legacy OEMs need to embrace a bold strategy to protect their turf, whilst diving headfirst into the new technology and business models, partnerships, heavy investments in innovation, and a willingness to disrupt their own operations.” NAAMSA’s chief policy officer, Tshetle Litheko, brought the topic closer to home, discussing the NEV landscape and outlook in South Africa. NAAMSA represents the South Africa automotive manufacturing industry and the seven original OEMS in the country. NEVs, the next natural step Litheko noted that because of environmental pressures, the innovation and migrating towards NEVs is unavoidable – “it’s the next natural step”. South Africa currently produces 0.5% of the global production of cars. Through its South African Automotive Master Plan, it aims to produce 1% of the world’s cars by 2035. However, Litheko noted, the export markets that South Africa has are now looking to cleaner energy vehicles such as hybrids and EVs. So, the current production of vehicles with internal combustion engines will not be fit for purpose and South Africa will need to adjust its products accordingly. “That said, one of the biggest markets that we need to factor in is the 1.4 billion market in Africa – and that market is not about to migrate or evolve into these NEVs.” In the African market the production of cars is around two million, with South Africa producing a third of that. He then referenced India, with a similar population density to that of Africa, and pointed out that India currently produces almost eight million vehicles annually. “India is the biggest and fastest growing exporter of cars into South Africa (and by extension into Africa).” Taking a leaf out of India’s book, South Africa