Special Economic Zone in Limpopo to host an energy and metallurgical complex

Lehlogonolo Masoga, CEO of Musina-Makhado SEZ, explains how the MMSEZ is ideally placed to play a key role in regional integration.

Artist impression of the MMSEZ. Image supplied by Limpopo Economic Development Agency (LEDA)
What locational advantages does the MMSEZ enjoy?

The Musina-Makhado SEZ is located in the vicinity of the Beit Bridge Border Post which is one of the busiest ports of entry to South Africa and a gateway to the South African Development Community (SADC) countries.

The MMSEZ has the potential to become an inland intermodal terminal, facilitated by its anchoring position along the North-South Corridor, and directly connecting to the country’s major ports through both N1 road and the Johannesburg-Musina railway line, for the trans-shipment of sea cargo and manufactured goods. Musina and Makhado municipalities are located in the Vhembe District.

What industries will be established at the SEZ?

An energy and metallurgical complex will include the following plants:

Coal Power, Coke, Ferrochrome, Ferromanganese, Pig Iron, Carbon Steel, Stainless Steel, Lime, Silicon-Manganese, Metal Silicon and Calcium Carbide.

This will be complemented by the logistics hub, agro-processing centre, light-to-medium manufacturing industries, SMME Incubation Centre, retail centres, hotels and residential amenities.

What is planned for the early phases?

The planning phase has been complex. A rigorous and diligent planning process was undertaken which involved pre-feasibility, feasibility, licence application, operator appointment, stakeholder engagement, environmental impact assessment, clusters analysis, internal and external infrastructure master planning, entity corporatisation, etc.

Despite the lengthy environmental impact assessment process affecting the Energy and the Metallurgical Cluster (South Site), we are confident that the light-to-medium industrial park, to be located in the North Site of the SEZ, will be operational by the end of 2021. Our infrastructure roll-out plans are unfolding smoothly.

What are the longer-term plans for the SEZ?

The MMSEZ is an economic development tool which aims to promote national economic growth and exports by using support measures in order to attract targeted foreign and domestic investments, research and development and technology transfer.

We are looking forward to creating a minimum of 50 000 job opportunities in the next 10 years through this initiative and to turn around the economic fortunes of the Limpopo Province. All these investment opportunities will lay a solid foundation for the envisioned futuristic Smart City and smart economy.

When the High-Speed Train between Johannesburg and Musina comes to fruition, that will add impetus to the MMSEZ.

How is pollution being mitigated?

The MMSEZ SOC is committed to environmental and biodiversity protection. We fully appreciate and respect the Paris Agreement and our country’s commitment to ecological sustainable development and are already taking all reasonable measures to mitigate environmental concerns such as global warming, pollution, biodiversity loss, water scarcity and possible threats to food security.

Substantial research is being conducted to mitigate such risks which will include the deployment of the best carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology to mitigate the greenhouse gas emissions.

Specialist studies on climate change and pollution have been conducted to mitigate potential negative impacts. With regard to water scarcity, efforts are being made to avoid tapping into the already stressed water resources by exploring various innovative engineering options, including cross-border water-transfer schemes.

Will construction of the SEZ infrastructure be done by local companies?

Local empowerment is at the centre of the MMSEZ business model. We are already at an advanced stage of completing a comprehensive Enterprise Development Strategy and the development of an SMME Incubation Centre.

Local enterprises will undoubtedly enjoy preference in a variety of opportunities throughout the project development phases, including infrastructure roll-out.

With whom is the Limpopo Provincial Government partnering in the creation of the SEZ?

Each SEZ project is regarded as a national asset located in a particular province. Such national assets are expected to attract foreign direct investment and technology transfer. This model warrants public and private partnerships at all levels.

The Limpopo Provincial Government has partnered with the national government through the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (dtic), an international operator from China, Vhembe District and local municipalities, particularly Musina and Makhado municipalities, and the business fraternity to implement the MMSEZ.

Where does the SEZ fit in regional strategies?

The location of the Musina-Makhado Special Economic Zone makes it an ideal regional integration initiative. The SADC Industrialisation Strategy (2015-2063) emphasises the pursuit of targeted and selected industrial policies to create conditions for higher rates of investment by the public and private sectors to enable crucial sectors to prosper, especially value-adding manufacturing. The recently signed Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), promises to redefine trade relations among African states and beyond.

The Musina-Makhado SEZ is well positioned to play a regional integration role in SADC and to take up opportunities that are presented by the AfCFTA.

Lehlogonolo Masoga has more than 19 years of experience as an administrator and public servant, most recently as Deputy Speaker of the Limpopo Provincial Legislature and MEC for Roads and Transport.

Lehlogonolo served on the Limpopo Youth Commission. He holds three master’s degrees: Governance and Public Leadership (Wits), Development Studies (Limpopo) and an MSc in Leadership and Change (Leeds Beckett University, UK). He has diplomas in human resources and humanitarian assistance and is currently a registered PhD candidate in Administration.