Automotive sector applauds TNPA investment in Eastern Cape ports

Transnet National Port Authority’s announcement that R9.1bn will be invested in the Eastern Cape ports over the next seven years is well received by the Eastern Cape's prolific automotive sector which accounts for about half of South Africa's automotive exports.

AIDC Eastern Cape CEO Thabo Shenxane said the AIDC EC, who, with other stakeholders in the Eastern Cape, had been lobbying for infrastructural investment and operational efficiencies at ports to foster growth in the region's automotive sector, “applauded the focus, energy and resources to accelerate automotive growth and industrialisation.”

“Automotive growth and exports – which involves an extended manufacturing value chain - is core to transformation, localisation and job creation in the Eastern Cape, one of the country's most economically impoverished provinces,” Shenxane said.

“While TNPA have earmarked the Port of Gqeberha for the automotive sector, Ngqura is being positioned as a transhipment and energy hub for the southern hemisphere. The development of the East London Port will finally encourage Mercedes Benz to cater for growth of its exports and its regional supply cluster. This growth remains critical to the region's attainment of SAAM 2035 targets, including transformation and job creation set by both government and industry in the South African Automotive Masterplan 2035,” Shenxane said.

The Ngqura and Gqeberha ports, which are jointly managed as the Nelson Mandela Bay port, will receive R4.8-billion and the East London port will receive R4.3-billion, according to TNPA.

Shenxane said “investor confidence and uninterrupted export growth will also be facilitated by bold moves for these ports to provide alternate sources of electricity and water supply within its Special Economic Zones, which house a large percentage of automotive component manufacturers, supplying OEMs.

The TNPA will issue a request for information (RFI) in July for renewable energy capacity at the ports, which will be followed by a request for proposals (RFP) by September, on a power purchase agreement basis.

The ports authority will also issue an RFI in July for all ports to supply desalinated water, with an RFP to follow by October, on a water purchase agreement basis - as a proactive measure for any future water-related crises.

“These proactive measures directly address the concerns of investors and current operators for a reliable and constant supply of water and electricity. We applaud government’s commitment to creating conditions, including infrastructural improvements to enable the lion’s share of the country’s automotive supply chain that is based in the Eastern Cape to become more efficient and hence globally competitive.”