“My job is to develop strategies that enable the entity to achieve its objectives and mandate,” said Seipati Mangadi, chief executive of the Gauteng Industrial Development Zone (Gauteng IDZ). Mangadi has a long history of being in managerial positions. She started off her career in banking, and was a financial manager before transitioning to the position of project manager. She then left the private sector and has been working for government for a decade.
“Approximately 10 years ago, I became a manager for special projects in economic development,” said Mangadi. While working in that position, she was responsible for identifying the projects that government could embark on to improve the economy of Gauteng. She was involved in developing a strategy for motorsport, and from that point, many other projects have been developed.
One of those projects was the development of the industrial hub at OR Tambo International Airport. “That was a project I inherited in 2010. I took it all the way from concept to where it is now, where it is being implemented. It is operational and we have our first tenant in the space,” said Mangadi.
On a day-to-day basis, she is responsible for developing strategies and plans that will allow the zone to achieve its outcomes. Achieving those outcomes will come from accelerated development and increased investment — whether it is foreign or domestic. Part of the work the Gauteng IDZ does is offer incentives to the companies that are housed within the precinct.
The Gauteng IDZ is important for the creation of jobs. While the zone does not always create jobs directly, it enables easier creation of jobs and regional reciprocation in its space. “So in a nutshell, I have to develop SMMEs strategies,” said Mangadi, adding that she needs to ensure there is value created for SMMEs that encourages them to participate. One strategy is to get SMMEs to partner up with sister companies to take advantage of the opportunites that are being created in the IDZ.
“We also fostered skills development strategies, because if we want to actually attract investors into this precinct, those investors need to know that there is a pipeline of skilled people who can come in and work in their operations,” said Mangadi. Part of the Gauteng IDZ’s work is to have skill strategies for every sector that businesses participate in.
The objectives of the Gauteng IDZ are to attract foreign direct investment and to build additional industrial capacity in terms of the economic infrastructure in the eastern corridor of the province. Additionally, it has the objective of building strategic investment capabilities that will enable Gauteng to participate in more industries. This will in turn accelerate industrialisation and the development of goals to build regional diversification, particularly in the Ekurhuleni region. Mangadi says there is a special focus on the region because Ekurhuleni is South Africa’s major manufacturing hub.
The Gauteng IDZ has been much spoken about. Mangadi said the IDZ is part of the broader strategy that the country has adopted towards industrialisation. Recently President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that several more special economic zones (SEZs) would be launched. Some of these are already operational, while others are still in the planning phase.
“Our objective is to develop purpose-built manufacturing in and around the airport, with the sole intent of encouraging industrialisation that is export oriented. The Gauteng IDZ will take advantage of the capability of the airport to transport cargo in and out of the country with ease,” said Mangadi.
The project, which is based around OR Tambo airport, has many different precincts. One is a high-security precinct, which houses a jewellery manufacturing precinct.
“We are developing multiple precincts because this is Gauteng. Land is not readily available like the other provinces. We have been approved to develop non contiguous precincts,” said Mangadi, adding that three precincts have been designated. She said they want to develop world-class facilities that will be able to compete with the best in the world.
Most of South Africa’s IDZs are based in harbours; the Gauteng IDZ is the exception because it is linked to an international airport. It’s main focus will be high-value, low-mass products, as they will be transported by air.
“The government is trying to expand economic activity in the country. For now, every province has an opportunity to have Special Economic Zones (SEZs), which can be enlarged or expanded,” she said.
Mangadi says over the past two years, IDZs have transitioned into becoming SEZs and incentives were added that makes them more competitive. One of those incentives includes the SEZ fund that the GIDZ is able to access to develop world-class facilities. An incentive for possible investors is a 15% corporate tax, which a lot of their clients are interested in.
One of the biggest successes for Mangadi is the community project they’ve developed. A number of students have been trained with vital skills and opportunities have been created for them in the market. “Some of them will be taking up positions in the jewellery precinct and have access to world class facilities that they can utilise for their designs and their manufacturing,” said Mangadi.
Another project which Mangadi is proud of is the recent launch of a food processing plant, which is the second-largest refrigeration plant in the southern hemisphere. She said the facility is about to gain green status as it has incoporated several new exciting technologies.
In closing, Mangadi said the work of developing the Gauteng IDZ has been a challenging exercise. “We don’t want to give people the impression that it is simple. We are in a space where we are competing with the global market for the same pool of investors. There are also challenges with the fiscus,” she said, adding that this is putting pressure on the work they are doing. “However, we are trying to develop world class facilities and reduce government bureaucracy to enable businesses to do what they do best.”