By Lucas Ledwaba
THE MUSINA MAKHADO SPECIAL ECONOMIC ZONE (MMSEZ), which celebrated the launch of its corporate identity this week, is expected to become the economic epicentre of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
The MMSEZ is expected to inject billions of rands into the Limpopo economy and create thousands of job opportunities.
The project was initiated by the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition through an act of parliament. On Thursday night the company launched its new logo and website as part of an ambitious rebranding campaign.
The MEC for Economic Development, Environment and Tourism Thabo Mokone underlined the MMSEZ’s significance in terms of its expected contribution to the Southern African region.
The MMSEZ development will cover approximately 11 500 hectares of land situated along the N1 highway that connects South Africa to the SADC region and the rest of the continent via Zimbabwe. The overall development will among others include the building of a power station and smelters.
“Given our strategic location, the MMSEZ will be the epicentre of the SADC,” said Mokone.
Dare not fail
He further described the project as a dream that we all yearn to achieve and ensure that we all dare not fail.
“Our SEZ will prioritise our entrepreneurs [and] SMMEs. We will, without fail, exploit opportunities provided by MMSEZ. Special Economic Zones are used across the world to create wealth for countries,” he said.
Albert Jeleni, the President of the Vhembe Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said they believe in the SEZ. “We eagerly wait for the implementation of the SEZ in the province,” said Jeleni, thanking the board of MMSEZ for its efforts in driving the project. MMSEZ SOC CEO Lehlogonolo Masoga said the SEZ has
positioned itself as a platform to revitalise the Limpopo economy through industrialisation.
“Our focus is to generate the much-needed base-load electricity, establish a metallurgical complex, develop a manufacturing hub, enhance agro-processing and to develop a regional logistics centre,” he said.
Masoga emphasised that the close proximity of the international border with Zimbabwe at Beit Bridge and abundance of mineral and agricultural resources give the MMSEZ a competitive advantage.
He further said the launch of the new corporate identity came at a critical moment when the country is searching for sustainable economic recovery initiatives in the aftermath of a debilitating COVID-19 lockdown. The launch of the new corporate identity coincided with the launch of the of the company’s website (http://www.mmsez.co.za).
The MMSEZ’s five-year strategic plan, which is in support of government’s National Development Plan, reflects its contribution towards accelerating sustainable socio-economic transformation, and unlocking the potential to grow a competitive economy with the intention to create jobs and reduce inequality and poverty.
Limpopo Premier Chupu Mathabatha revealed that MMSEZ has so far managed to attract investment of up to R150 billion to the province.
The MMSEZ is expected to be a major catalyst in the fight against unemployment and stimulation of business opportunities. It is anticipated that the MMSEZ will create on average between 21 000 and 26 000 jobs in its initial stages — which would bode well for the recovery of an economy ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mathabatha, in his State Of the Province Address (SOPA)earlier this year, noted that the external master plans for both the Southern and Northern sites of the MMSEZ have been
He said the internal master plan for the Southern site has also been completed whilst the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) study for the Northern site has been concluded and the process for the Southern site was at 90%.
The MMSEZ is earmarked to contribute towards strengthening South Africa’s terms of trade through the production and export of value-added commodities, the creation of stronger value chains and provision of much-needed jobs in previously disadvantaged regions.
VhaVenda King Toni Mphephu Ramabula committed to work closely with the government to ensure the development is a success.
“We were informed by government that the development of MMSEZ will unleash unprecedented creation of sustainable job opportunities for our people,” said Mphephu. “The only way to defeat challenges is to work together all the time,” he said.
The MMSEZ development is expected to accelerate industrial diversification of the province through the establishment of an energy and metallurgical processing complex. Iron ore, coking coal and other minerals that are key inputs into the iron and steel production process will be part of the downstream value- addition process.
It is also forecast that the MMSEZ will include light and medium industries, logistics and agro-processing that will be supported by strong retail, residential centres and recreational facilities.
It is estimated that the infrastructure for the MMSEZ will take up to 30 years to
construct at an approximate cost of between $10-billion and $15-billion.