SOUTH AFRICA – President Cyril Ramaphosa, Gauteng Premier David Makhura and Minister of the Department of Trade and Industry Ebrahim Patel broke ground in honour of the launch of the Tshwane Automotive Hub at the Ford Motor Company in Silverton, Pretoria.

Ford is the anchor tenant of the new hub, which hopes to create in excess of 5,000 jobs.

The hub was created following the SA Investment Conference held last year and is linked to government’s Automotive Master Development Plan 2035.

The zone will focus on supplying components to car manufacturers in Tshwane. Other auto assembly plants based nearby include Nissan and BMW.

Nine Ford suppliers have confirmed that they will set up operations in the new SEZ.

Ockert Berry, vice-president of Ford in the Middle East and Africa, said “Having these suppliers located adjacent to the Silverton Assembly Plant is a crucial step towards increasing the efficiency of our local operations, and unleashing further potential increases in production capacity for the domestic and export markets.”

The City of Tshwane has made available 162 hectares of land for the new Tshwane Automotive Special Economic Zone (SEZ).

The initial phase of the new automotive hub is expected to create 7 000 jobs. Once complete, the SEZ could create an estimated 70 000 jobs, Ford said in a statement.

 It is expected to boost employment in the surrounding communities of Mamelodi, Nellmapius and Eersterust.

Speaking from the site of the hub, Ramaphosa hailed the development as important to the economy, as the country works to attract investment to jumpstart the sluggish economic growth.

He said the development will not only be a “catalyst for growth, but will also bring jobs and support local industries”.

“South Africa is still proving to be an attractive investment destination,” he said, adding that the development will help address the twin challenges of low growth and unemployment.

Ford’s domestic turnover contributes over 1% to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), and the company also has a components plant in Struandale, outside Port Elizabeth.