5 years ago

Northern Cape Business 2017-18 edition

  • Text
  • Infrastructure
  • Tourism
  • Province
  • Network
  • Science
  • Development
  • Sez
  • Business
  • Investment
  • Business
  • Northern
  • Cape
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  • Municipality
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  • Upington
Northern Cape Business 2017/18 is the seventh edition of this highly successful publication that has, since its launch in 2009, established itself as the premier business and investment guide to the Northern Cape Province. Officially supported and utilised by the Northern Cape Department of Economic Development and Tourism, Northern Cape Business is unique as a business and investment guide that focuses exclusively on the Northern Cape.

Dicing in the desert,

Dicing in the desert, and on airport runways Petrolheads gather in the Northern Cape to put pedals to the metal. The first Kalahari Desert Speedweek was held at Hakskeenpan in the Green Kalahari in 2012. Car and motorbike enthusiasts gunned their engines in category-specific time-trials ranging from veterans to the latest super cars. The dust didn’t put them off, nor did the fairly basic accommodation options. The event was the first of its kind to be held in Africa. Top speeds at the first event were 321km/h (Suzuki Hayabusa motorbike) and 308km/h (Lamborghini Aventador sports car). The event was held again in 2013 and 2014 but was suspended the next year for a reason that might seem odd for anyone familiar with rainfall patterns in the Northern Cape – the clay surface of the area where the speed runs were due to take place were still recovering from heavy rains. Hakskeenpan is also the venue of the Bloodhound project and so the surface has to be carefully monitored. An environmental impact assessment in 2016 meant that the event was postponed again, but there is a lot of enthusiasm for the next running of the Kalahari Desert Speedweek in September 2017. So successful was the first Speedweek that it has spawned another series of flat-out events. Upington Airport was the venue for the first of these, in 2013. Upington Airport is unusually large. When South African Airways was forced to fly around the bulge of Africa during the days of apartheid and sanctions, Upington’s runways were extended so that they could refuel 747s: the result is a 5.5km-long runway, long enough for cars to build up plenty of speed. Timing at 4km allows for a 1.5km braking section! What became the Upington All Tar Speedweek also attracted sponsors ranging from track preparation (Dust-A-Side, better known for its work with dust management in the mining sector), MTN (telecoms and infrastructure), Nissan and the Northern Cape Department of Tourism (medical and logistics). In 2016, the event was held at Mahikeng Airport. Some of the events allow and encourage camping, some rely on that fact that Upington has excellent hotel and guesthouse sector. Protea Hotels by Marriott has a 90-room hotel in the town with four types of rooms and the booking website Booking. com lists no fewer than 52 other accommodation options for the town. NORTHERN CAPE BUSINESS 2017/18 22

Extreme testing Hot days and straight roads make the Northern Cape the perfect place for testing the world’s best cars. It would be difficult to think of a place less like Upington than Arjeplog. For starters, the town in the Lapland region of Sweden is about 15 000km north of the Northern Cape town. And then there’s the average temperatures—the hottest summer day in Arjeplog is about 20°, which would count as a fairly average day-time temperature in Upington in winter! But the towns share an important function in the automotive industry. Because of their extreme temperatures, some of the world’s top motor vehicle manufacturers test their cars in Arjeplog in the northern winter, and in the Northern Cape in the southern summer. Not only are the hot conditions good for testing these vehicles, but the high quality of roads also attracts manufacturers. There is a private test circuit outside Upington and a section of the N14 near Pofadder is designated for testing at speeds up to 250km/h, but strictly for “authorised vehicles” only, which must show a bright yellow sticker. An online aviation forum carried a photograph taken by a car buff some years ago, of a Bugatti Veyron outside a store in downtown Upington. It would definitely have turned a few heads, with a new one in 2016 on sale for about .5-million. A tyre change for such a vehicle would be no small matter, so getting the testing right is very important. Upington Airport is big enough to accommodate the biggest cargo planes carrying cars on their way to testing sites. While sedan cars enjoy the tar, sports utility vehicles (SUVs) or bakkies are often spotted on the province’s dusty pans and sandy hills doing off-road testing. To prepare for the Dakar Rally, the Toyota Gazoo Racing team took their Hilux out to the Goerapan for a tough workout in conditions that were similar to what they would encounter in South America. Lots of sand and loose gravel, sharp ups and downs – and all at top speed. No studies have been done on the economic impact of car testing in the Northern Cape but an article in Autonews in 2015 gave the annual value of car testing to the Arjeplog economy of 3.8-million, the result of winter population of the town doubling in the winter. Several companies have bases in the town, including Opel (who were the first to visit in the 1960s), Land Rover, BMW and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Opel, GKN and Robert Bosch. 23 NORTHERN CAPE BUSINESS 2017/18

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