A new master plan for Ekurhuleni


All aboard: the new transport-focused OR Tambo Aerotropolis is now ready for take-off

Being part of the new aerotropolis precinct, which was established to enhance developments in the Eastern Corridor of Gauteng, the OR Tambo International Airport Industrial Development Zone (ORTIA IDZ) project aims to develop 725 hectares of land situated around the OR Tambo International Airport. The project aims to grow a functional economy through the strategic use of road, air and development of available land to enable mobility, densify the municipality and integrate nine towns, 17 townships and well-established industrial areas, says Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality Executive Mayor Mondli Gungubele.

Gungubele unveiled the 30-year Aerotropolis Master Plan, which is set to present potential and current investors with a myriad of economic opportunities, to local and international investors during a two-day Conference at Emperors Palace at the end of last year, announcing that twelve projects will form the pillars of Ekurhuleni’s Aerotropolis Master Plan, to be implemented over the next 30 years. This will indeed be a welcome financial injection, set to stimulate economic development in the region—and to present potential and current investors with a myriad of economic opportunities in the economic powerhouse of South Africa.

Gungubele said the Ekurhuleni Aerotropolis is the city’s economic growth path aimed at repositioning the economy of the entire Gauteng city region, as well as to balance the distribution of economic activities around Ekurhuleni to create over half a million new formal jobs over time. “Through this master plan, we are making a bold commitment as a show of force and demonstration of our resolve to change the lives of our communities. We are declaring a fresh approach to tackling poverty, joblessness, unemployment and the inequalities of the past. Today, I can say without fear of contradiction that we are unveiling to the world one of the most solid city development and investment attraction instruments.”

The ORTIA IDZ is a Gauteng Provincial Government initiative lined up to realise the objectives of implementing its economic development goals. The initiative is aligned to the priorities set out by both national and provincial government, which among others include leading, facilitating and managing sustainable job creation and inclusive economic growth and development in the Global City Region.

With a strong focus on developing beneficiation capacity related to the precious metals and minerals sector, the first phase of the Gauteng Industrial Development Zone (GIDZ) has been identified as a catalyst to develop the broader GIDZ—an important key to unlock Gauteng’s jewellery benefit potential in the newly introduced Jewellery Manufacturing Precinct (JMP). Being part of the broader aerotropolis framework, which was defined to enhance developments in the eastern corridor of the province, the delivery of the JMP is divided into three parallel processes: infrastructure development, investor attraction and skills development. Development of the precinct is driven by the Gauteng Industrial Development Zone Development Company (GIDZ Devco), a special purpose vehicle that was created in 2009 to develop and operate the Industrial Development Zone (IDZ) at the ORTIA. The GIDZ Devco is a subsidiary of the Gauteng Growth Development Agency (GGDA); it was incorporated as a prerequisite for the application of an IDZ Operator permit made to the dti. The IDZ Operator Permit License was issued in December 2010 to DEVCO to develop and operate the ORTIA IDZ, on recommendation by the Manufacturing Development Board to the Minister of Trade and Industry.

Precious and semi-precious metals

Guided by the GIDZ Devco, the new JMP programme is directed at light, high-margin, export-oriented manufacturing of South African precious and semi-precious metals. The multi-site development consists of several industry-specific areas to be developed in phases over a 10 to 15 year period. Various skills development programmes will be implemented to enhance skills in the sector. The programme contributes directly to Strategic Goal 1 (Gauteng’s economy radically transformed) and Strategic Goal 2 (Gauteng’s economy re-industrialised) and supports delivery of Strategic Goal 3 (GGDA capacitated to deliver and implement efficiently and effectively).

Once completely established, the JMP will be a fully operational programme, set on 6.1 hectares of land with a mixture of facilities for storage, design, manufacturing and retail businesses, bringing with it a myriad of investment opportunities including ICT production and distribution, aerospace, electronics, avionics, and related industries. The JMP further offers investors the opportunity to get involved with the mineral beneficiation sector in South Africa, whilst receiving special export conditions and business incentives.

Special economic zones

Looking at the bigger picture, apart from enhancing the economic competitiveness, establishing Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in the region will also promote competitiveness among enterprises. Moreover, it will seek to encourage domestic and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) for Township Industrial Hubs. It is expected that the intervention will contribute to job creation, while also reducing the cost of doing business in SEZs and industrial hubs. Once developed, the SEZs will provide significant opportunities in terms of:

attracting domestic investment and FDI in manufacturing and tradeable services;
providing non-core services, such as transport and distribution, to the SEZ;
providing increased export opportunities through export incentives; and
establishing green industries, oil and gas services investors, aquaculture projects, as well as a possible mineral sand beneficiation investment.


Critical to the success of the precinct is infrastructure development and the creation of successful partnerships and collaboration with other role-players in the region, such as the Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) and the Gauteng Department of Economic Development (GDED) and a land lease agreement between ACSA and the GDED on the 6.1 hectares of land to be developed as Phase 1 of the IDZ programme was concluded last year.

In addition, a funding understanding with the dti for the bulk infrastructure development were also reached. In respect of infrastructure, the bulk infrastructure of the JMP will be undertaken with the support of the GDED’s infrastructure unit. In the year under review, consulting engineers were contracted through GDED to develop the detailed designs required to secure site development plans approval by the Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality, as well as to provide professional engineering services.

Attending the conference, Department of Transport director-general, Pule Selepe, said the aerotropolis project is a recognition of the important role of civil aviation in the economy and the development of Gauteng. “The core principles include developing a sustainable aviation industry, promoting tourism and trade and improving regional and international co-operation. Further, the strategic objectives include growing the air transport sector to stimulate growth, aid job creation and promote and maintain an enabling framework for businesses and travellers,” he told attendees.

Selepe said the fact that the aerotropolis project has received Special Economic Zone status from the Gauteng Industrial Development Zone Provincial Department, enables the companies to benefit from lower corporate tax rates for a specific period, or receive other incentives. And looking at transport, the region has good road interconnectivity to the energy clusters in Mpumalanga, including Secunda and eMalahleni, the eastern Free State, and the platinum- and coal-rich North West, as well as road links to Mozambique. Although it has to be acknowledged that rail assets in the region are under used, it can also be leveraged.

“The Aerotropolis project also provides an opportunity to develop an integrated transport system in Ekurhuleni, with seamless public transport for the airport and surrounding developments also determining the success of the project. Key concerns or obstacles identified include local road congestion, which would hamper both businesses and residents and potentially hamstring the project’s growth.

“However, the new PW 3, PW 15 and PW 17 freeways are being built to improve access across the eastern parts of Gauteng,” Selepe said.

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