Four new electronics factories are expected to be established in Buffalo City Metro by the end of the year, providing at least 400 permanent new jobs.
BCM mayor Xola Pakati signed the lucrative deal with the City of Chongqing in China yesterday.
Pakati told sister newspaper Daily Dispatch from China that early indications were that at least 400 permanent jobs would be created when the factories officially open in November.
He said no new buildings would be built as the factories, which would manufacture electronic devices including computers and cellphones, would be housed at the East London Industrial Development Zone (ELIDZ).
Pakati said in case one of the plants needed more space than was available at the award-winning development zone, partnerships would be created with existing electronics companies to enhance their capacity and production levels.
“In our meetings today on industrial cooperation, we agreed on a number of areas for cooperation, which included the new shipping line and the establishment of new factories,” Pakati said.
The BCM mayor is leading the metro’s delegation on a two-week visit to several cities in China.
Other senior BCM officials accompanying him on the investment drive are mayoral committee member Ncedo Kumbaca, head of international relations, Darby Gouden, general manager in Pakati’s office Sitembiso Khanyile, head of special projects Noludwe Ncokazi, as well as the metro’s head of growth strategy, Andrew Murray.
City of Chongqing’s deputy mayor Ma Chengquen first took Pakati and his team on a tour of the local information communication technology centres, as well as the local automotive sites, to give the group an idea of how their investment in the metro could become successful if well-nurtured.
The delegation also visited Xiantao Bigdata Valley yesterday, a valley which created world-class IT software similar to the US’s Silicon Valley.
“What should be appreciated about these twinning agreements is that not only do they open doors for economic growth but they also open doors of possible exchanges,” Pakati said.
“We are hoping that there will be a group of young people from BCM that will go to China for some of this training.”
The deal comes a year after the BCM tabled a report that emphasised the need to revitalise some of its factories in areas such as Dimbaza and Fort Jackson.
Economic development MEC Sakhumzi Somyo, while tabling his policy speech in March, also committed to inject funds to attract investors.
Somyo’s spokesman Tobile Gowa said the BCM deal with the city of Chongqing would go a long way in reviving economic activity and job creation in the metro.
He said BCM had a solid industrial base which was recognised worldwide and that was anchored on the automotive sector.
“We welcome any investment injection to BCM, especially in this difficult economic climate where there is a slow rate of foreign direct investment generally in our economy,” Gowa said.
“These new investments complement those that we have seen in the Nelson Mandela Metro recently and would contribute immensely to economic growth and much-needed job creation in this region.”
The delegation is expected back in town on Sunday.