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Free State Business 2021

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The 2021 edition of Free State Business is the 11th issue of this successful publication that, since its launch, has established itself as the premier business and investment guide for the Free State. The Free State has varied investment and business opportunities and the Free State Development Corporation describes some of these in detail in these pages. Drilling for natural gas is a new phenomenon which may spark activity in other sectors and this journal notes significant new investments and projects in the chemicals and mining sectors. The official launch of the Maluti-A-Phofung Special Economic Zone (MAP SEZ) was a significant event for the economy of South Africa’s most centrally located province. Located on the strategically significant N3 highway that links the economic heartland of South Africa to the coast, the MAP SEZ has the potential to attract new investors and spark a revival in the manufacturing sector. In addition, overviews on each of the key economic sectors provide up-to-date information on trends in the mining and tourism sectors, for example. Regular information about the size and nature of each sector is also included.


SPECIAL FEATURE A regional overview of Free State By John Young A regional overview of the Free State By John Young With acquisitions in the chemicals sector, drilling about to start for natural gas and the bedding down of a new Special Economic Zone, there are opportunities for growth in the Free State economy. As of February 2020, nearly 100 new permanent jobs had been created within the Maluti-a-Phofung Special Economic Zone (MAP SEZ), the strategically located area on the N3 highway designed to attract new investment to the Free State Province. Sectors prioritised at the MAP SEZ include logistics, ICT, automotive, pharmaceuticals, manufacturing and agro-processing. The 1 000ha site has four zones: agro-processing, light industrial, heavy industrial and a container terminal. Control of the project now rests with the provincial Department of Small Business Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (DESTEA). Other areas that are being upgraded to provide infrastructure to encourage manufacturing are the Phuthaditjhaba Industrial Park and the Botshabelo Industrial Park. The N3 is South Africa’s busiest road and the Highway Junction truckstop at the entrance to Harrismith claims to be Africa’s biggest. More than 1 500 vehicles pass through every day and three forecourts cater to three fuel brands. Refuelling, storage and handling take place here, highlighting the province’s strengths in logistics as the country’s most central province. The country’s two great highways pass through the province. The N3 links the ports of Richards Bay and Durban with the industrial heartland and the N1 provides north-south connectivity. The provincial capital, Bloemfontein, is another logistics hub. Three other national highways intersect the province which is also well served by rail and air links. The Bram Fischer International Airport serves the provincial capital. Links to the west (Kimberley and on to Namibia) and east (to Lesotho) underpin the planning behind the N8 Corridor concept which covers Bloemfontein, Botshabelo and Thaba Nchu. A plan for the coordinated development of the N8 Corridor has been approved by a range of bodies and is being funded by the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) and the Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality. Projects and purchases The Omnia Group is present in 45 countries, has more than 4 400 employees and a net asset value of R9.7-billion (March 2020). The company’s agricultural and chemicals divisions have a large FREE STATE BUSINESS 2021 10

SPECIAL FEATURE BANDIT – EXPERIENCE THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS First-world technology and quality combined SABS-approved roadworthy trailers built at Africa with African simplicity. The main woodchipper Biomass Company in Worcester, South Africa. unit is manufactured by Bandit Industries, Inc. Engine-powered woodchippers are fitted with 35-plus years’ experience with Tier 3, South African standard, diesel or in innovation and international petrol engines, depending on the woodchippers’ research. These units specification or clients’ preference. Electric and PTO are shipped to options are also available in various Bandit models. South Africa The add-ons are specifically handpicked to give where they are you the best set-up and will provide you with a fitted onto well-balanced woodchipper that will outperform most other chippers in Africa. presence in the northern Free State town of Sasolburg and the company has recently acquired a US-based firm that specialises in patented agriculture biological products, further expanding its geographical footprint and product range. International fuel, gas and chemicals company Sasol regularly invests in new technologies and in expanding production of its many products. Renergen, the owners of the Virginia Gas Project, announced in March 2020 that their findings had “radically improved” the company’s drilling plan. One of the key facts to emerge is that the gas contains helium of up to 12%, a good percentage. Despite the drawback associated with Covid-19, Renergen also announced that it was going to roll out filling stations across South Africa to cater to companies in the trucking industry converting to gas. Mining is reduced in importance but remains a significant employer. Harmony Gold has several assets in the province and Sibanye-Stillwater has undertaken a feasibility study on a property adjacent to its existing Beatrix mine. In agriculture, the Free State is looking forward to the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), the free trade agreement that was stalled by the Covid-19 pandemic. The Free State’s agricultural export basket is well suited to trading with African states and strategies are being considered to promote apples, asparagus, cherries, cut flowers, sorghum, venison and wine. The Free State produces significant proportions of South Africa’s wheat (30%), sunflowers (45%) and maize (45%) and is ranked third in contribution to national GDP in agriculture. The Free State shares 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 semidesert, with some Karoo vegetation occurring in the south. The southernmost region of the Free State is a largely dry area with open grasslands predominating, although it is also home to the Gariep Dam, South Africa’s largest dam. 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 sixth-largest city in the country, the Mangaung municipal area covers more than 6 263km² and has a population of about 850 000 people. Bloemfontein is responsible for about 25% of provincial GDP. 11 FREE STATE BUSINESS 2021

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