Officials who participated in this week’s Special Economic Zones (SEZs) Investment Roadshow to China have expressed confidence that the country’s SEZs will attract foreign direct investments as a result of the interest stimulated by the trip amongst the potential Chinese investors. The roadshow to Shanghai, which ended yesterday, was organised by the Department of Trade and Industry (the dti) and was led by the Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Bulelani Magwanishe.
The purpose of the roadshow was to attract Chinese investors to the country’s Special Economic Zones. The South African delegation attended a seminar with more than 100 Chinese businesspeople on Monday and visited a science and technology special economic zone in Shanghai yesterday.
According to the Chief Executive Officer of the Free State Development Corporation, Mr Ikhraam Osman, the trip succeeded in whetting the appetite of the Chinese businesspeople and created interest amongst them to invest in the country’s SEZs.
“The trip presented officials from our SEZs with a golden opportunity to interact directly with the Chinese companies and present to them the value-propositions of our Special Economic Zones. I came here to market the Maluti-A-Phofung SEZ and there is a logistics company that showed interest in investing in the SEZ. This was the first contact and it means we need to have follow-up meetings to exchange more technical information that will assist them to make a decision about investing in our SEZ,” says Osman.
The Project Executive for the North West-based Platinum Valley SEZ, Mr Davis Sadike says the trip was successful as it enabled him to understand the success that the Chinese SEZ model has managed to achieve in boosting the country’s development and economic growth.
“The interaction with the Chinese companies gave us a better understanding of their needs when it comes to investment in foreign projects. We managed to share specific information of our SEZ with two companies who are operating in the renewable energy and locomotives sectors. A good foundation has been laid for us to explore future discussions with these companies and others that we met,” said Sadike.
The Manager in the CEO of the East London Industrial Development Zone’s office, Ms Ayanda Ramncwana said it was critical for the dti to undertake initiatives like the roadshow in order to market the SEZs internationally as part of efforts to attract investments.
“The trip was beneficial as it provided the SEZs with international exposure that they require to woo investors. It confirmed that there is potential in trying to attract investments from China in the various sectors that we are interested in as South Africans. It also showed that synergies that we can forge with the Chinese institutions such as the Bank of China would go a long way in assisting us reach out to investors successfully with a bit of local assistance and support,” added Ramncwana.
The Acting Manager in the CEO of the Richards Bay Industrial Development Zone’s office, Ms Zodwa Zikalala also cherished the opportunity to present their projects to potential investors.
“We received good feedback from potential investors after our presentation. We have picked a few companies that we need to make follow-ups with. I was also impressed by the visit to the technology SEZ because our IDZ also has an innovation park,” said Zikalala.
To the Sector Specialist of the proposed Upington SEZ, Ms Babalwa Mbobo the roadshow provided proposed SEZs like Upington and Nkomazi with an opportunity to introduce themselves to the Chinese companies.
“it was really beneficial to interact with all of those businesspeople that attended the session. Most of them were not aware that there is a predominantly solar energy SEZ planned for Upington. The incubation programme of the technology hub also impressed me because we are also planning to establish an incubator in our SEZ for the benefit of small businesses in the area,” added Mbobo.