6 years ago

Free State Business 2017 edition

  • Text
  • Infrastructure
  • Development
  • Province
  • Investment
  • Business
  • Network
  • Bloemfontein
  • Municipality
  • Manufacturing
  • Economic
  • Province
  • Provincial
  • African
  • Opportunities
  • Mangaung
  • Industrial
Free State Business 2017 is the seventh edition of this highly successful publication that has since its launch in 2008 established itself as the premier business and investment guide to Free State Province. Supported and utilised by the Free State Development Corporation (FDC), Free State Business is unique as a business journal that focuses exclusively on the Free State.


A REGIONAL OVERVIEW OF FREE STATE PROVINCE Growing a diverse economy New infrastructure and incentives to manufacturers are attracting investments to the Free State Province. Two of the great pillars of the provincial economy — agriculture and mining — remain important but there are exciting growth shoots in new sectors such as solar energy, manufacturing and gas. The third important pillar of the economy of the Free State, the chemicals and fuels hub at Sasolburg, is modernising and expanding. International fuel, gas and chemicals company, Sasol, regularly invests in new technologies and expanding production of its various products. Chief among the infrastructure that has been put in place is the Maluti-A-Phofung Special Economic Zone at Harrismith. This zone offers attractive investment incentives and leverages the site’s position on the busy N3 highway to promote enterprises in the logistics sector. Parks within the SEZ are designed to encourage companies from related sectors such as agri-processing. A new water pipeline from the Gariep Dam is being built to serve the Xhariep District and the Mangaung Metro. A steady and reliable water source is an important component in attracting investment. The first Free State Global Investor Trade Bridge in 2015 resulted in agreements that were signed between the province and delegations from Angola, China, Russia, Turkey and India. The SEZ was an important element in selling the province’s attractiveness as an investment destination. Five major, national highways intersect the centrally located province, which is also well served by rail and air links. The Bram Fischer International Airport in the provincial capital city of Bloemfontein is the site of a multi-phase industrial and commercial development. Two leading universities (the University of Free State and the Central University of Technology) have several campuses across the province. In 2016, the provincial government’s internship programme supported more than 500 graduates. There are currently 279 students placed in provincial departments and municipalities as interns. A potentially game-changing development in the local economy is the building of a R200-million helium extraction plant to exploit a natural gas and helium field, which has been identified near the towns of Virginia, Welkom and Theunissen. With proven reserves of 25-billion cubic feet, the rights to the field are owned by Renergen and they will be worked by Afrox, a subsidiary of the Linde Group of Germany. FREE STATE BUSINESS 2017 8

SPECIAL FEATURE the rural economy and provide opportunities for investors. Gold is mined mainly in the north-western parts of the province, in two clusters. AngloGold Ashanti has assets on the border of the Free State and North West provinces, as well as several mines in the Welkom-Virginia belt. Sibanye Gold mines the Beatrix Gold Mine in the latter area. Coal is mined in the north to feed power stations. Mining makes up 10% of provincial GDP. The Free State shares its borders with six other provinces, in addition to the Mountain Kingdom of Lesotho. A summer-rainfall region with a mean annual rainfall of 532mm, the Free State’s climate, soil types and topography vary greatly within the province, with plains in the west and mountains in the east. The western and southern areas are semi-desert, with some Karoo vegetation occurring in the south. The Free State produces significant proportions of South Africa’s wheat (30%), sunflowers (50%) and maize (45%). As such, it is ranked third in contribution to national GDP in agriculture, despite accounting for only 5% of South Africa’s overall GDP (FNB Chartbook). Another emerging sector is solar energy. The Xhariep, Lejweleputswa and Mangaung regions have among the best direct solar radiation kWh/m² in the country. The Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme, is creating opportunities for private investors to build and operate solar generation plants in the Free State. Rezoning for solar farms has already taken place in Theunissen, Bloemfontein, Fauresmith and Hoopstad. In rural areas, the provincial government intends rolling out Agri-parks. These hubs, which will include processing facilities, are intended to help small-scale farmers expand their operations, but should also provide opportunities for existing enterprises to invest in new markets. Infrastructure to support these parks has begun at Parys, Tshiame, Thaba Nchu, Springfontein and Wesselsbron. In a similar vein, the use of small towns such as Cornelia, Tweeling, Excelsior and Tweespruit as hubs under the Comprehensive Rural Development Programme (CRDP) should boost Municipalities in Free State The Free State has one metropolitan municipality (Mangaung), four district municipalities and 19 local municipalities. Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality is a Category A municipality, which governs Bloemfontein, Botshabelo and Thaba Nchu. The municipality was formed after the local government elections in May 2011. The sixth-largest city in the country, the Mangaung municipal area covers more than 6 263km² and has a population of about 850 000 people. The languages spoken in the area are mainly Sesotho, Afrikaans, English and Setswana. Bloemfontein, which is responsible for about 25% of provincial GDP, is at the centre of a development node known as the N8 Corridor, which is intended to boost development along the road from Lesotho to Kimberley and Upington in the North West prov- 9 FREE STATE BUSINESS 2017

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