Much more rigorous collaboration between government and business will be needed for Nelson Mandela Bay to become an investment city of choice.
This was the consensus reached by panellist of an Exporters Eastern Cape webinar, hosted on 11 March in partnership with Standard Bank.
KPMG Port Elizabeth Managing Partner Alan Barr facilitated the panel discussion on the topic: “Investing in Nelson Mandela Bay: What is the plan for the next 2 years and how will it impact the Bay”.
Sundays River Citrus Company Logistics Manager Andre Mouton said the citrus industry is expecting projected growth of 30% over the next few years, which would have an exciting knock-on effect on the local economy. However, while production was particularly good, the more challenging aspects of the citrus export business was the operational supply chain.
“We need to grow our competitive edge against countries like Spain. We need more effective road and rail infrastructure, that is consistent and reliable to serve the clients and markets,” said Mouton.
To this end Mouton said the citrus industry has had good interaction with various stakeholders, like Transnet National Ports Authority, to alleviate bottlenecks and reduce inefficiencies to get product to market.
Transnet National Ports Authority Executive Manager: New Business Development Jacob Nare said plans were in place – looking at various scenarios – to alleviate backlogs, especially for the manganese and citrus industry, during the busy periods at the harbours.
Nare said collaboration, even between state-owned entities, was not always taking place, and that there was a need for collaboration to be deepened in Nelson Mandela Bay.
“We are optimising the ability to collaborate with economic agents like the CDC [Coega Development Corporation] to execute projects that will enable private sector participation in the development of port facilities. It is not just the responsibility of the port, but the responsibility of the Metro as a whole and all the stakeholders to develop facilities to optimise and benefit the SEZ [Special Economic Zone],” said Nare.
Another element that could be a game changer for the local economy was the development an LNG hub.
“Nelson Mandela Bay will be able to play a role in the energy solution for the country,” said Nare.
Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality Director of Trade and Investment Mpho Jonas also stressed the importance of stronger collaboration between the private and government sectors to create an enabling environment for businesses in Nelson Mandela Bay.
Standard Bank Head of Business Banking Eastern Cape Leigh-Anne De Witt discussed various services the bank offers to exporters. She said collaboration, as well as customer service, was important factors to consider when doing business across all sectors and industries.
Image: Pictured from left during the Exporters Eastern Cape panel discussion were Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality Director of Trade and Investment Mpho Jonas, Transnet National Ports Authority Executive Manager: New Business Development Jacob Nare, Sundays River Citrus Company Logistics Manager Andre Mouton, KPMG Port Elizabeth Managing Partner Alan Barr and Standard Bank Head of Business Banking Eastern Cape Leigh-Anne De Witt.