Atlantis Special Economic Zone for Green Technology: Where greentech grows



On December 6 2018, the Atlantis Special Economic Zone (ASEZ) was officially launched by President Cyril Ramaphosa. This priority development node is situated approximately 40km north of the Cape Town CBD, and 76km south of Saldanha Bay. It lies between the N7 to Namibia and the R27 West Coast Road.

The president described Special Economic Zones as manufacturing hubs for the entire African continent, capable of reaching and servicing a rapidly growing market for goods and services. The Atlantis SEZ is expected to grow the greentech sector in the Western Cape more broadly, and revitalise Atlantis as a key industrial node in the region.

Greentech refers to green technologies that reduce or reverse the impact of people on the planet. Wind turbines, solar panels, insulation, biofuels, electric vehicles, materials recycling and green building materials are all examples of green technology.

The impact of investment in the Atlantis SEZ

Situated on South Africa’s West Coast, the Atlantis SEZ capitalises on the Western Cape province’s already booming renewable energy and green technology sector, and taps into the $3-trillion global clean technology market.

The zone welcomes manufacturers, service providers, suppliers and other players in the value chains of green technology manufacturing. Investors have access to extensive investment support through the One Stop Shop and the rest of the investor support ecosystem, which includes InvestSA, GreenCape, the City of Cape Town and Wesgro. Together, the ecosystem provides information and advocacy; market intelligence; facilitated access to permits and licences, planning and development approval; and skills training.

Through these combined investment promotion efforts, R700-million has already been invested in the Atlantis SEZ, including manufacturers of wind turbine towers, geotextiles, double-glazed windows, wind tower internals and acetylene gas. More than 332 new jobs have been created in the zone to date, with the majority of the positions filled by Atlantis residents.

The combined work of Wesgro, City of Cape Town (InvestCT), InvestSA and GreenCape in promoting and landing investors is a uniquely effective approach that has yielded results recognised by Unctad (the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development) on more than one occasion.

It is expected that the zone will attract a further R3.7-billion of investment by manufacturers of wind blades, smart meters, batteries, electric vehicles, wind turbines, solar PV, and by other players in the waste, agri-processing, gas and chemicals value chains. The goal is to create nearly 3 000 direct jobs in the zone by 2030.

In addition to jobs and investments, the people of Atlantis have also benefited in a number of other ways.

Skills development has been prioritised to ensure local skills meet the needs of industry located in the area. To this end, the youth has benefited from training, mentoring, exposure to greentech, and participation in the annual Atlantis Renewable Energy Challenge and career expo, all of which will potentially help them tap into greentech job opportunities emerging from the Atlantis SEZ. In 2018, 88 learners received tutoring through the Atlantis Ikamva Youth Programme; 81% of grade 12 learners passed their matric exams, with 68% achieving bachelor’s and diploma passes.

Skills development and training for adults has taken the form of training sessions on solar PV for people from Atlantis and surrounds, and the recruitment of three female interns from Atlantis to work in the SEZ project office. The women successfully transitioned into permanent appointments with the SEZ project office in 2016. Other benefits for Atlantis include the upgrade of the power supply, fibre connectivity and MyCiti transport links.

Community Stakeholder Network

The community’s role has been fundamental to the ethos of the development of the ASEZ. The designated area of the SEZ is embedded in the existing Atlantis Industria and is mere blocks from the residential area. The work with community members in Atlantis has been unique in the landscape of economic infrastructure development; members of the community have participated in co-creating the SEZ’s implementation plans and shaping their representative structures. In 2019, the ASEZ successfully established an ASEZ Community Stakeholder Network. This elected group of 15 community members represents eight sectors in a structure whose function is to act as a conduit for communication between the ASEZ and the Atlantis community.

Creating an environment for regional economic development

Owing to its strategic location and envisaged growth, the ASEZ is demonstrating its potential to contribute towards regional economic and spatial development. Here are some key ways in which the ASEZ contributes to growth in the region:

  • Supporting the growth of the West Coast Development Corridor through strategic positioning, linking the Saldanha Bay SEZ, Port of Saldanha, Atlantis SEZ, Port of Cape Town and the economic nodes in the City of Cape Town.
  • Contributing to the achievement of the national, provincial and city green economy vision through green industrialisation and manufacturing.
  • Enabling the socioeconomic development leg of the National Development Plan (NDP) by supporting three NDP Strategic Infrastructure Projects (SIPs) — SIPs eight, nine and 10 — which focus on greening the South African economy, electricity generation and electricity transmission.
  • Supporting local content manufacturing linked to the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme driven by the national department of energy.
  • Developing gas-to-power projects: The conversion of Ankerlig to gas creates an opportunity for additional gas-to-power and gas for industrial applications in the zone.
  • Contributing to climate change adaptation through green economic growth and industrialisation.
  • Collaboration creates momentum

    The Atlantis SEZ is the result of six years of collaborative effort with the City of Cape Town, Western Cape Government and the national department of trade and industry (the dti).

    After the signing of a memorandum of understanding with the dti, in 2013, the Western Cape government submitted an application in 2015 to the dti to have parts of the Atlantis Industrial area declared an SEZ.

    The dti held public consultations in October 2017, and received overwhelming support in favour of establishing the Atlantis SEZ. On June 7 2018, the South African Cabinet approved the decision by the then minister of trade and industry to designate the ASEZ. This was after the Special Economic Zones Advisory Board was satisfied with the rationale and scale of economic opportunities in the region, and recommended that the minister designate the proposed area and grant a SEZ licence to the Western Cape provincial department of economic development and tourism. On December 6 2018, the ASEZ was officially launch by Ramaphosa.

    Provincially, the zone complements the Western Cape Government Green Economy Strategy Framework, and the City of Cape Town’s Atlantis 2023 strategy.

    Why would investors want to invest in the Atlantis SEZ?

    There are strong and growing South African and African markets for greentech. The South African greentech manufacturing market is worth at least R5-billion, with a growing greentech market in the neighbouring countries. South Africa has opportunities in energy, waste, agriculture, transport and other sectors and is a great entry point to the SADC market.

    Atlantis is a great location and development ready. Ninety-three hectares of zoned City of Cape Town land is available for leasing to investors. Bulk infrastructure is in place and Atlantis has new public transport, fibre connectivity and shipping links. Atlantis is also close to major ports, roads, universities and greentech markets.

    Investors have access to extensive investment support through the One Stop Shop for investor support and the rest of the investor support ecosystem, which includes InvestSA, GreenCape, the City of Cape Town, and Wesgro.

    Investors and tenants are accessing attractive incentives in the form of tax relief and allowances, employment tax incentives, fast-tracked development approvals, fee exemptions and subsidies.

    There is an attractive, wide-ranging skills base to recruit from, with five universities and many more colleges in the province, and a large range of unskilled, semi-skilled, technical and professional candidates.

    Contact Jarrod Lyons, investment promotion manager
    ([email protected]
    / 021 811 0250)
    for more information on how to invest in the Atlantis Special Economic Zone

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