A Memorandum of Understanding signed on Tuesday, 12 March between the Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality (BCMM), Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) and the East London Industrial Development Zone Company (ELIDZ), seeks to harness the potential of the Port of East London and the IDZ to foster economic growth in East London.
The MoU will remain in place for a period of five years. It will establish a framework for the parties to engage with one another on strategic issues of mutual significance for the metropolitan area.
Samkelo Ngwenya, Municipal Spokesperson, said: “This collaboration emanated from engagements we have had with Transnet as well as the East London IDZ with the objective of unlocking economic and investment opportunities in this region. We are looking forward to executing this agreement and to more engagements at various levels as we forge ahead with the government mission to develop the socio-economic lives of our communities.”
Issues to be covered under the MOU include spatial planning land use development and infrastructure development in the Port, the Municipality and ELIDZ; strategic planning for economic and tourism development; promotion, attraction and servicing of investors in the Buffalo City; lobbying and advocacy for future development of the region; community development and social upliftment; collaborative research and sharing of best practices, among others.
Acting Chief Executive of TNPA, Nozipho Mdawe, said TNPA was committed to working tirelessly with regional partners to grow the economy of Buffalo City and to find new ways to bring investments to the harbour.
“We want to heighten efforts to attract local and foreign investors in partnership with the East London Industrial Development Zone. This will aid in diversifying the port’s service offering to the market but also extend its current core capabilities of handling of key customers, including those in the all-important automotive, manufacturing and agro-processing industries,” she said.
East London Port Manager Sharon Sijako said there is a need for the port to strengthen its operational partnerships, improve efficiencies and foster innovation with a view to increasing its global competitiveness and long-term sustainability.
“This remains one of the most marginalised regions of South Africa, so we must harness our collective resources to kick-start growth, enable investment and drive job creation. The Port of East London must be used to position Buffalo City and the eastern half of the Eastern Cape as a business- and investment-friendly destination, which requires renewed investments into capacity and infrastructure,” she said.
ELIDZ Chief Executive Officer, Simphiwe Kondlo added: “The MoU came at a time where the regional economy is in need of such commitment from all players charged with the responsibility of ensuring that we unlock the investment potential of not only the city but also the region. As such, positive spinoffs of this MoU will have a lasting impact on generations to come, if implemented as accordingly,” he said.
Kondlo added that the three stakeholders hold the key to improving the competitiveness of our region which would, in turn, ensure an increase in investment interest.
Mdawe concluded: “We are certain that formalising our working relationship in this way will help us and our partners to transform the economic landscape of the Buffalo City Metropolitan area and allow alignment with the needs of investors, thus positioning the City as an ideal destination for investment.”