GreenCape hands over Atlantis green tech zone

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The Atlantis Special Economic Zone for Green Technologies was launched by president Cyril Ramaphosa in December 2018.
The Atlantis Special Economic Zone for Green Technologies was launched by president Cyril Ramaphosa in December 2018.

The Atlantis Special Economic Zone for Green Technologies (ASEZ) has been handed over from non-profit organisation GreenCape to Wesgro, the official tourism, trade and investment promotion agency for Cape Town and the Western Cape.

The Atlantis SEZ is the result of more than six years of collaborative effort by the City of Cape Town, the Western Cape government and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

The zone is dedicated to the manufacturing and provision of services in the green technology space. These include renewable energy technologies. Wind turbines, solar panels, insulation, biofuels, electric vehicles, materials recycling and green building materials are all examples of green technologies that will be welcomed to the zone.

It was launched by president Cyril Ramaphosa on 6 December 2018.

The ASEZ has come a long way from the original seed of the idea in 2011, when the concept of a greentech hub in Atlantis was launched by the City of Cape Town. When the DTI launched the SEZ programme in 2013, Atlantis was nominated to participate.

“GreenCape has been the appointed Atlantis SEZ project management unit since 2013, responsible for co-ordinating the application for designation,” says Francis Jackson, GreenCape ASEZ project executive.

“At the end of September 2019, we celebrated more than six years of successful partnerships that have led to this milestone of a designated Atlantis Special Economic Zone for Green Technologies, as we hand over the project management unit functions from GreenCape to Wesgro for the new Atlantis SEZ entity to take the zone forward into the future.”

Collaborative approach

With the successful designation of the SEZ, Wesgro has been appointed by the Western Cape Provincial Government to establish the registration of a provincial entity to meet the requirements of the SEZ Act, and the capacitation of this entity to be able to transact and fulfil the aspirations set in the application for designation.

GreenCape says it spearheaded the collaborative approach with the three tiers of government during the period of its appointment as the Atlantis SEZ project management unit, and more than R700 million has already been invested in the Atlantis SEZ, including manufacturers of wind turbine towers, geotextiles, double-glazed windows, wind tower internals and acetylene gas.

Because of these investments, it notes, more than 322 new jobs have been created in the zone to date, with the majority of the positions filled by Atlantis residents.

The non-profit organisation adds that investors have had and will continue to have access to extensive investment support through the One Stop Shop for investor support and the rest of the investor support ecosystem, which includes InvestSA, GreenCape, the City of Cape Town and Wesgro.

Together, the ecosystem provides information and advocacy; market intelligence; facilitated access to permits and licences, planning and development approval; and skills training.

“This collaborative theme has been the secret to Atlantis punching above its weight in investment promotion, skills development and enterprise development, leveraging an ecosystem of aligned entities in such a way that the sum impact is greater than the parts,” says Tim Harris, CEO of Wesgro.

“The combined work of Wesgro, City of Cape Town, InvestSA and GreenCape in promoting and landing investors is a uniquely effective approach that has been yielding results recognised in UNCTAD awards on more than one occasion,” he adds.

Over this time, skills development has been prioritised to ensure local skills meet the needs of the area’s industry. To this end, the youth has benefited from training, mentoring, exposure to green tech, and participation in the annual Renewable Energy Challenge and career expo, all of which will help them tap into green tech job opportunities emerging from the SEZ.

“Community’s role has been fundamental to the ethos of the development of the ASEZ. The designated area of the SEZ is embedded in the existing Atlantis Industria and is mere blocks from the residential area,” says alderman James Vos, mayoral committee member for economic opportunities and asset management.

“The ASEZ will succeed and be relevant to its context if it goes beyond being a siloed enclave and embeds itself into the physical, social and economic context of Atlantis. The work with community members this year has been unique in the landscape of economic infrastructure development, seeing community participating in co-creating the SEZ’s implementation plans and ultimately shaping their representative structures.”

GreenCape is handing over the insights from the past few years in the form of a package of plans adopted by the Atlantis SEZ. This set of strategies and implementation plans draws on the foundations set in the strategy drafted by Deloitte in 2015, and an update to elements of the strategy compiled by Nova Economics in 2018.

The Atlantis SEZ office at Sarebi that was managed by GreenCape is now moving to a new, yet to be disclosed location, and will be managed by Wesgro in the interim.

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