Today I visited the SEDA Atlantis Renewable Business Incubator (SAREBI) in the Atlantis Industrial Area, co-located in an area that is fast becoming a focal point for the growth of the green economy and general manufacturing in Cape Town.
Atlantis is an area that has faced difficult social and economic challenges, including high unemployment. However, with particular targeted interventions by the City, notably the introduction of the Atlantis Investment Incentive Scheme, and collaboration with other spheres of government, the right enabling environment has been created for exciting new economic activity in the area.Our support to this area underscores our commitment to building an opportunity city by creating the conditions to enable economic growth and job creation.
A number of job creation strategies are paying off, with our unemployment rate lower than most metros and we are committed to looking at even more ways in which we can use the levers within government to attract investment and create more jobs.
In 2015, the City of Cape Town partnered with SAREBI by contributing R500 000 to support its incubation programme in assisting small- and medium-size enterprises to stimulate job creation in Atlantis. SAREBI, an initiative of the Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA), offers various opportunities to small businesses, including access to its Manufacturing and Technology Centre, operational support, facilitation and advisory services.
It makes a vitally important contribution to the renewable energy value chain, particularly as the demand for local content grows. Currently 41 people are employed by the businesses operating at SAREBI.
SAREBI’s success in growing small- and medium-size enterprises is already evident. LEDzShine, a business that assembles LED lights for industrial and commercial applications, has in the last quarter installed 300 LED lights at a large food and beverage factory in Bellville, which is expected to produce R600 000 in electricity savings per year for the factory. They are currently in a post-project evaluation, with all indications that this will lead to an extension of the project to other sites.
Another business making use of the SAREBI facility, iSOLAR, successfully completed orders for 900 solar water heaters for the City of Cape Town and the Cape Winelands District Municipality. iSOLAR has also recruited more than 30 new student interns who are undertaking practical training on manufacturing and installation of solar water heaters, with a strong prospect that they may become permanent employees in the future. iSOLAR is gearing up to participate in the forthcoming national roll-out programme and is developing an export programme which will focus on supplying systems to the Mauritian solar water heater programme.
These successful emerging enterprises are contributing to the growth of a cluster of green economy and general manufacturing activities in Atlantis, including a pipeline of new skills. SAREBI is to be congratulated for the work it is doing.
The City’s major contribution to boosting investment and job creation continues to be the Atlantis Investment Incentive Scheme, which has now been in operation since 1 July 2013. These incentives include both financial incentives like the electricity tariff subsidy and the building plan scrutiny and land use application fee exemptions, and non-financial incentives like building plan fast-tracking and biodiversity offsets.
Since the establishment of the incentives, 16 new companies have opened their doors, creating 854 new jobs, while five have expanded their operations, creating 20 new jobs. At the same time it is estimated that more than 1 500 jobs have been retained by pre-existing businesses taking up incentives. There are additionally a number of exciting new investments in the pipeline.
Within the broader Atlantis Industrial Zone is the Green Technology Industrial Park. To date, a major wind power turbine manufacturer (GRI Wind Steel SA) has established itself and subsequently expanded. A downstream linkage has already been created with the opening of a component manufacturer in 2016 to supply GRI (Resolux).
The City is a strong supporter of the GreenTech Park being declared a Special Economic Zone by the National Government and we hope this will be achieved soon. Thereafter, investors will be able to access numerous National Government incentives that will supplement the City incentives.
There is an economic revival happening in Atlantis. Growth in small- and large-scale manufacturing, new skills creation, and increased clustering – particularly in the green technology space – is evidence of new-found business confidence in Atlantis.
The City will continue to expand our efforts to attract new investment and job creation in Atlantis going forward, and we encourage prospective investors to engage with the Atlantis Investment Facilitation Office about opportunities in this area.
Another exciting initiative has been the City’s #YouthStartCT Entrepreneurial Challenge where we are seeing amazing ideas from young entrepreneurs who have viable business ideas.
I am encouraged by our young people’s ideas and to know that they are taking their economic future into their own hands while also actively seeking ways in which they can be supported.
We are delighted to support these young business minds and provide an avenue where they receive further training. The top three #YouthStartCT entrepreneurs will each receive a prize to help their business ideas grow.
All of these initiatives show that by working together to make progress possible, we will ensure that we realise freedom, fairness and opportunity for all.