INVEST IN THE HEART OF SOUTH AFRICA
South Africa is one of the world’s top business destinations and is supported by well-developed infrastructure. The country, is rated by the World Bank among the top 30 countries for ease of doing business and among the top 10 in the world for investor protection and good fiscal governance.
The Free State Province, one of South Africa’s nine provinces, is centrally situated in the heart of South Africa, borders six of the other provinces and shares a border with the Kingdom of Lesotho.
It is characterized by wide open spaces and farmland, lush landscapes and mountainous retreats that lift visitors’ spirits and remove them from the stresses of city life.
The Province, a fast growing tourism destination, boasts some of the country’s largest man-made lakes such as the Gariep Dam, the Vaal Dam, the Sterkfontein Dam among others. The province’s tourist attractions also include the Golden Gate Highlands National Park, the Willem Pretorius Game Reserve and a large number of game farms and holiday resorts.
Johannesburg, in the Gauteng province, and Durban in KwaZulu-Natal, are within easy driving distance of the province and there are daily flights from Bloemfontein to all major centres in the country. Three of the major roads, the N1 to Cape Town, the N3 to KwaZulu Natal and the N5 traverse the province, making the Free State ideally situated as a transport and logistics hub.
The Free State is striving to change from being dependent on the primary sectors of mining and agriculture to become a more export-oriented economy. Currently 80% of the manufacturing output comes from the northern region of the province as the South African petrochemicals giant Sasol and related industries are located within the region. The oil-from-coal operation at Sasolburg also provides opportunities in petrochemical and pharmaceutical down-streaming.
Free State Business Environment
- Open to business, trade and foreign investments
- Offers diverse and abundant natural splendour and a year-round temperate climate,
- Excellent living standards and medical services,
- Superb recreational and cultural activities;
- Good educational facilities Pre-primary to tertiary,
- Various tourist attractions facilities
- Excellent Sporting Facilities
- Value for money in terms of food prices, transport costs, school fees, property rental and ownership costs, compared to other major cities world-wide.
- Most developed telecommunications network in Africa, major players are Vodacom, MTN , Cell C, Telkom & Neotel
Driving investment into the province
The Free State Province is actively driving new investments and job creation initiatives into the province through the Free State Development Corporation (FDC).
KEY SECTORS AND OPPORTUNITIES
The key targeted sectors includes manufacturing, renewable energy and infrastructure development.
Agriculture and agro processing
Efforts to develop the Free State into the agro-industry hub of South Africa have resulted in a set of initiatives intended to exploit and benefit the value adding capacity of the province, have been conceptualized.
Food Processing Park
One of these initiatives, the establishment of a food processing park in Harrismith, in the eastern Free State, intending to host multi-national companies in the food production sectors, is already at an advanced stage of planning. This food processing park will position Harrismith as an agro-industry hub by creating value-adding capacity in servicing a host of locally produced agro-produce for export and national distribution. The park would also cater for logistics service providers, warehousing, cold storage and manufacturing facilities to enhance production efficiencies. This project is to be implemented in phases over three years.
The Free State already has a number of players in organic food production, baby food, sunflower processing, wheat and maize milling, and some of the national food-producing companies are also key players in the province.
Integrated Beef Project
Another major project in the pipeline is an integrated beef production and handling cluster for the export of beef products to major markets in Europe and Asia. This project entails fodder production, feed mill operations, abattoir, meat cutting, packaging and deboning plant, by products plant, meat processing plant, a logistics fleet operations .The required private sector investment capital is estimated at R250 million. The handling capacity for the abattoir is estimated at 25 000 herds of cattle per month.
Transport and Logistics
Harrismith Logistical Hub
This project is part of the Durban-Gauteng- Corridor that both the President of the Republic of South Africa, and the Premier of Free State Province, announced this year.
Harrismith’s central location on the N3 highway between Johannesburg and Durban provides an excellent opportunity to divert freight traffic and associated economic activities. The Department of Roads and Transport in Free State is the developer of the HLH Project. The aim of the Harrismith Hub is to establish a distribution centre for de-stuffing and break bulk packaging of inland bound cargo as well as consolidation of outbound cargo.
Vehicle Distribution Centre (VDC)
The FDC is at an advanced stage of commissioning a vehicle distribution centre which will store and distribute locally manufactured and imported vehicles awaiting orders from dealerships. This facility will be located in Harrismith in the eastern Free State. Expressions of interest have already been received from members of the National Automobile Association of South Africa. The VDC will be complemented at a later stage by a parts and accessories centre that will be responsible for undertaking minor repairs on vehicles damaged in transit.
Mangaung Bio-Medical Park
The province is also targeting the pharmaceutical and medical sectors for investment. The springboard for this sector is the injection of a R35 million investment in the establishment of a high tech medical supplies facility.
Another planned development is the Mangaung Bio-Medical Park. This world class bio-medical facility will be designed to host research laboratories; export oriented pharmaceutical companies; bio-technology and medial research companies and competitive pharmaceuticals products, services and technologies.
The intention of this development is to leverage on existing bio-medical research capability based at the University of the Free State and to ensure that patents being produced annually are commercialized locally. This facility will also provide a platform for the incubation of new biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies.
The Xhariep District in the Southern Free State has the 2nd best solar radiation index after Upington in the Northern Cape. This provide an opportunity to harness the natural sun power and to generate electricity. This positions Xhariep as an ideal location for the deployment of concentrated solar power and photovoltaic solar power generation technologies.
The FDC is currently developing a 250 MW Solar Park in the Xhariep district and is looking for investors to partner with them in the establishment of this park where there are plans to locate the manufacturing and assembly of solar panels, solar water geysers and a solar energy generation plant.
Business Process Outsourcing and Offshoring
One sector in the Free State which presents great potential for development and investment is Business Process Outsourcing and Offshoring (BPO&O). South Africa offers a total cost saving of between 30% and 40% over the UK and Europe. Government Assistance and Support (GAS) provides separate grants for training and for investment to local and international investors.
Bloemfontein is at the centre of Telkom’s switching centres and sits on both national and international optical-fibre routes. The province also offers a large pool of trainable personnel at competitive wages. Opportunities exist in the inbound, outbound, back-office legal, medical and pharmaceutical services.
The plains of the Free State carry unimaginable wealth and other resources in abundance, supported by a well-developed business infrastructure and business-friendly commercial policies.
The Free State is still a relatively untapped jewel of South Africa, and investment opportunities abound in tourism as well as sports development.
The FDC is looking at this investment promotion drive as being a catalyst for diversifying and expanding the economy of the province while offering great opportunities for investors.