RBIDZ reignites relations with investors and industry captains

RBIDZ CEO, Thabane Zulu challenged attendees to work collectively in the quest for a better, more prosperous future for all.

RBIDZ CEO, Thabane Zulu challenged attendees to work collectively in the quest for a better, more prosperous future for all.

Published Nov 9, 2022


The Richards Bay Industrial Development Zone (RBIDZ) recently hosted a pool of domestic and international investors, with the intention of elevating confidence and commitment in investments already injected into the Zone’s operations as well as those still in the pipeline and on their way to finalising compliance processes.

The investor engagement session was conceptualised after a number of unprecedented occurrences – including the global pandemic, social instabilities and the KwaZulu-Natal floods – had severely hampered the ease of doing business and negatively impacted economic development. The event therefore sought to endorse and further the KwaZulu-Natal provincial government’s strategies aimed at recovering, reconstructing and rebuilding the KZN economy. Among other endeavours, this engagement platform with investors and captains of industry in the region underpinned a commitment to reviving industrial activities and seeking out collective partnerships that draw together resources and capabilities. The aim of these partnerships would be aligned to the provincial development agenda and include the fast-tracking of sustained industrial balance, recoveries and economic stimulation.

The event was attended by the leaders of local industries and public sector entities such as Richards Bay Minerals (RBM), Foskor, South32, Transnet, Zululand Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Trade and Investment KwaZulu-Natal, Ithala DFC, KZN Growth Fund, University of Zululand, Umfolozi TVET College, as well local and district municipalities. The “stars” of the evening were the RBIDZ’s investors that have injected the necessary investment capital and ensured that RBIDZ has a sound investment pipeline valued at R29.8 billion at the end of 2021/2022 financial year and representing various sectors of the economy. RBIDZ is driven by its mandate of attracting domestic and foreign direct investments.

As such, it takes as paramount its responsibility in driving industrial activities, and ensuring that all investment endeavours are fully supported and yield prosperous outcomes for all partners. In the main, these outcomes should include job creation, the articulation of transformation activities, and inclusive economic growth. Government leaders frequently point out that the realisation of economic transformation and job creation depends strongly on the performance of KwaZulu-Natal. This has been cemented by the on-going highlighting of Special Economic Zones as vehicles through which economic transformation and job creation objectives can be achieved – and the shackles of poverty broken.

Status of investments and investment projects

RBIDZ investors displayed significant resilience in terms of retaining investments and ensuring the security of jobs during the business downtime. Sizabantu Piping System (SPS) and Lovemore Brothers have expanded their investments – creating more job opportunities and even replacing those jobs that were shed during the pandemic period. Some investors that are busy with construction are also increasing their investments. For example, edible oils manufacturer Wilmar Processing SA has increased its investment value to R1.5 billion from R1.3bn, which is a positive nod to the economic recovery strides being made. Wilmar is one of the anchor tenants in RBIDZ Phase 1A estate – and with the progress made thus far at its construction site, completion and commissioning by March 2023 is assured. The new manufacturing facility promises an array of direct operational jobs, over and above those created during construction. The Nyanza Light Metals Product Testing and Development Centre, valued at R210 million, is operational in Phase 1F estate. The titanium dioxide chemical company is currently testing its products that will feed to the main commercial plant, which will be constructed in the 2022/23 financial year as phase 2 of the project. Prostar Export Paints, a manufacturer of high-quality decorative and industrial coatings that conform to international standards, is well underway with site preparations for the commencement of construction. With an investment value of R141 million, the project will create close to 80 construction jobs and 50 operational jobs.

A R1.5-billion palm oil refinery under construction at RBIDZ Phase 1A (left), and operational Sizabantu Piping Systems (right).

Jobs created through investment projects

During the 2021/2022 financial year, 887 construction jobs – the majority of which were secured for local labour – were created through the various construction projects of RBIDZ investors. The KZN Government has set an ambitious target of increasing total employment to 4.5 million in 2035. This means that an annual growth rate of 5.43% is required in order to achieve this job creation target. Assessing the investment pipeline and activities currently taking place, RBIDZ is well on track to positively contribute towards job creation and poverty alleviation.

Prioritisation of enterprise development and localisation

RBIDZ has developed an Enterprise Development Programme in partnership with the City of uMhlathuze. It represents the company’s commitment to developing emerging businesses by linking them to investor opportunities and providing a platform from which they can grow to where they can eventually play in the bigger space of economic development. Accepting the challenge from RBIDZ CEO, Thabane Zulu to work collectively towards a better, more prosperous future for all the people of KZN, investors expressed appreciation for the support and concerted effort given to industrialisation and the need for investments to be operationalised. They also acknowledged the recognition afforded to them by the RBIDZ leadership and board of directors, as well as those in provincial leadership, such as the entity’s shareholder, MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Siboniso Duma.

Wilmar Processing SA was recognised with the award for creating the most local labour construction jobs, with Theiva Muthu receiving the award on behalf of the company from RBIDZ Board Members.

Acknowledging investor impact

The event concluded with an awards ceremony to recognise and acknowledge the positive contribution made by investors across a range of categories.

The awards and winners included:

  • Most Improved Investor after the pandemic – Lovemore Brothers
  • Most Impactful Operational Investor (employer with highest operational jobs and most impactful business linkages with emerging businesses)
  • Sizabantu Piping Systems ¡ Most Impactful International Investor
  • Molecor (an international company in a joint venture with Sizabantu Piping Systems)
  • Highest Audited Investment Value –Nyanza Light Metals
  • Most Construction Jobs created for local labour – Wilmar Processing SA