The Mpumalanga province is ready to do business with the United States and has outlined some of the investment opportunities the province offers both small and big investors. These opportunities were revealed during a roundtable discussion hosted by the province’s economic development and tourism department in partnership with the South African Embassy to the US. It was held under the theme “Understanding Business Opportunities in South Africa’s Provinces – Mpumalanga” and forms part of a series of roundtable discussions to be held with other provinces as well.
Some of the investment opportunities that were highlighted by the department’s MEC, Prince Mkhatshwa, included the role that the Mpumalanga Economic Growth Agency (MEGA) would play in driving economic growth in the province, establishing the Nkomazi Special Economic Zone, and building the Mpumalanga International Fresh Produce Market. According to Mkhatshwa, the agency was establishing an R1.2 billion fresh produce market facility in Mbombela. A total of R540 million has to date been invested in the project.
It is situated within the Maputo Development Corridor (MDC), linking Mpumalanga, Gauteng and the Nkomazi Special Economic Zone with the deep-water Port of Maputo in Mozambique. “The facility will give local farmers access to local, regional and international fresh produce markets, and will aid in food security,” Mkhatshwa said. He said the market would offer open trading halls for fruit and vegetables, meat, fish, and flowers, complimentary cold storage, ripening facilities and pallet handling, processing facilities, and an export hall.
There would also be bulk-breaking facilities for retail outlets, links with statutory organisations such as customs, transport and logistic enterprises, shared collation and packhouse facilities for SMMEs, commercial services including banks and restaurants, and a food bank for NGOs. The MEC said that MEGA was aligned with the government’s Nine-Point Plan which sought to prioritise projects that would tackle key economic issues. The plan includes growing the economy by revitalising agriculture and the agro-processing chain, advancing mineral beneficiation, implementing the Industrial Policy Action Plan effectively, and unlocking the potential of SMMEs, cooperatives, and township and rural enterprises.
It also aims to resolve the energy crisis, stabilise the labour market, upscale private investment, and increase investment in science and technology, water and sanitation, transport and broadband connectivity. Mkhatshwa said that in Mpumalanga, forestry was also a key driver for developing the rural economy and creating jobs, as about 40% of the country’s sustainable forests were in the province.