The province’s Aquaculture Development Zone (ADZ), located in Zone 10 of the Coega Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in Gqeberha, today, marked yet another significant milestone in bulk infrastructure development that will unlock EC aquaculture, paving the way for abalone farming and other strategic projects in the Zone.
Over the last two years, the Provincial Economic Stimulus Fund (PESF) investment, totalling R206 million, has facilitated enabling infrastructure, including important road networks, stormwater, water reticulation services, and electrical network for the ADZ area, making it highly attractive as an investment location.
Owing to this infrastructure, five investors with a combined investment totalling R540 million have been secured. The combined total investment value will now lead to the creation of 900 jobs in the aquaculture value chain.
Furthermore, the construction in the Zone has created 244 jobs; 45% of the infrastructure spend supporting micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).
Four hundred hectares (ha) of land is earmarked for the development of the ADZ, with Phase 1 comprising the development of 110ha, where a 15 Megalitre per day (MLD) desalination plant will also be developed.
Speaking during the ceremony, DEDEAT MEC Mlungisi Mvoko said the infrastructure creates an investment-ready platform for aquaculture investors, including abalone and finfish farms, the fastest-growing food production sector, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
“This development is crucial as it is a testament to some great strides towards unlocking the potential of the oceans economy, more specifically, the aquaculture sub-sector in the region and the province, he said.
“Now that the bulk infrastructure has been laid, more resources are required towards investment attraction. This is a task we cannot fail, as it provides for much-needed opportunities in the region and the Province in the form of new capital injection, job creation and revenue. We are confident that with the capacity at the Coega SEZ, we shall be witnessing more foreign direct investment as an investor-ready platform has been created,” he added.
He referred briefly to the latest economic statistics that show that the primary sector remains the least contributor to provincial jobs, accounting for 8.3% of provincial employment in the second quarter of 2022. In this quarter, agriculture created 17,000 new jobs and with a total of 110,000 people employed in the industry.
“While it remains a concern that the primary sector remains the least employing sector in the province, initiatives are helping to pave the way for the sector to absorb more job seekers,” he said.
“Our lacklustre economy has necessitated the provincial government to rethink and further reprioritise effective models of service delivery; hence the introduction of the Eastern Cape PESF which has acted as a catalyst for this project and seen the addition of five new investors.”
Five major improvements have been made to the infrastructure that includes:
- A road network to provide access to all the sites during this first phase
- Stormwater management system which has been built is aligned with current the Integrated Stormwater Masterplan for the eastern side of the Coega IDZ. This will allow the stormwater to be discharged into the ocean and to the inland stormwater infrastructure.
- The sewerage reticulation has been designed to tie into the existing bulk sewerage infrastructure in the area.
- Water reticulation for the area has been designed in line with the Coega IDZ Water, Sewer and Return Effluent Masterplan Update
- Provision has been in the services design that caters for a future seawater supply and return flow and telecoms.
In 2020, MEC Mvoko led the sod-turning of this catalyst project at the Coega Special Economic Zone, which gave a nod to the construction of the critical infrastructure needed for the project. The project has been funded through the DEDEAT’s Provincial Economic Stimulus Fund to create and save jobs.