‘Infrastructure the key’ to Bay development

Lee-Anne Butler

A COORDINATED and focused infrastructure development programme, coupled with increased localisation, could be the driving factors in turning the tide in South Africa’s main challenges of job creation and slow economic growth, according to Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba.

Gigaba was the keynote speaker at the Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber’s third annual meeting which was held at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Summerstrand last night.

He said this massive infrastructure programme, aimed at improving port, rail, road and internet connectivity in the country, could untap investor appetite, both local and foreign, grow the local manufacturing sector and increase localisation.

“The issue of localisation should not only be a government programme, but everyone’s programme. The question is how do we get local suppliers to become the preferred suppliers? This is a major challenge.

“We need to look at providing more support for our local suppliers. The recent wagon fleet procurement by Transnet showed that the extent of localisation is improving and that our state-owned enterprises are becoming more competent in increasing localisation. This must become a priority to ensure that money, skills and jobs do not leave South Africa,” he said.

Infrastructure development should be another priority.

“In Africa alone we have an infrastructure backlog that requires $93-billion per annum. This backlog does not facilitate inter-African trade. Challenges like this make you realise why trade between African countries is so low.”

Gigaba said Nelson Mandela Bay was well located, with the Coega IDZ and the Port of Nqgura poised as a major trans-shipment hub to become an entry point into the rest of Africa.

During the AGM, incoming board members elected include Mzi Baleni of Standard Bank, Craig Jacobs of Sasfin Premier Logistics, Patrick Monks of Business Connexion, Denise van Huyssteen of General Motors SA, Deidre Renison of Deidre Renison Management Services, MC Botha of Joubert, Galpin and Searle, Robert Niemand of LabourNet, Yasteel Kuseeal of Times Media and Christopher Mashigo of the Coega Development Corporation.

These members will join Alan Barr of KPMG, Alfred da Costa of Ukuvula Investment Holdings, Carol Hall of Vodacom, Rocco Joubert of First National Bank, Siya Mhlaluka of Transnet Port Terminals, Philip Nieman of Coca-Cola Fortune, David Powels of Volkswagen SA, Bongi Siwisa of Emfuleni Resorts, Jane Stevenson of Jane Stevenson and Associates, Sonja Tifloen of BLC Attorneys, Professor Derrick Swartz of the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, Greg Billson of Enterprise Development Consultants who serves as treasurer, Zoe Waters and chief executive Kevin Hustler of the Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber, Neil Hart of Boomtown Strategic Brand Agency, who serves as deputy president, and Mandla Madwara of Bedevco, who serves as president of the chamber.

Madwara said last year saw the chamber begin to lay the foundation that would allow the organisation to stand firm in its vision of becoming a competitive and sustainable city.

“Last year’s challenges included the lack of a permanent municipal manager, rising input costs and the threat of ageing and unreliable electricity infrastructure. The first quarter of 2013 has brought the excellent news of the appointment of a permanent city manager. The appointment of Dr Lindiwe Msengana-Ndlela is cause for celebration.”

According to chamber board treasurer Greg Billson, the chamber received an unqualified opinion for the 2012 financial year. It also achieved a profit of more than R25000 after making a loss of more than R300000 during the previous financial year.

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