In March, the Saldanha Bay Industrial Development Zone (SBIDZ) CEO, Kaashifah Beukes,and members of her executive board and management team met with the Saldanha Bay Municipality Executive Mayor Councillor, André Truter, and Ms Cornell de Kock, Director of Economic Development and Strategic Services for the municipality, at the SBIDZ Access Complex.
We recognised that the municipality had undergone much change and the Mayor’s office needed to be fully informed about what we do at the SBIDZ. Our relationship with the municipality was built on trust and “a shared understanding of our short- and long-term plans”. This ensured both parties understood what was necessary for the region and how we could achieve these goals by working together.
The meeting began with a comprehensive overview of the last six years of the SBIDZ and referred to the holistic work already achieved in setting out a mutually shared vision and cooperation agreement. The Mayor’s office has played a crucial role in ensuring that sustainable economic growth and development to improve the quality of life of all residents remained a key focus for the community. The SBIDZ is aligned with this mission, and its infrastructure projects provide opportunities for local contractors.
There was a consensus that the municipality and the SBIDZ needed to look to the future and that the immediate gains would be slow. However, it was also agreed that both parties needed to be agile and innovative to deal with the changes facing the maritime sector and the nature of work in general.
Three primary challenges emerged. The first was that of energy requirements. The second was the environment and environmental, social and governance (ESG) concerns. The third was the procurement processes and managing the expectations of the business community, especially the SMMEs.
We have always adopted a collaborative approach to upskilling and the effective use of local enterprises within the development of the SBIDZ, which continues to enable and empower the community. This “building local capabilities to maximise local beneficiation” strategy supports the region’s economic growth.
There was a lengthy discussion about the energy transition and the possibility of utilising independent power plants. The European Union have shown an interest in helping develop a green hydrogen facility, with the idea of exporting the fuel to Europe potentially. Such a facility would require a massive amount of energy and a stable supply. The current situation with Eskom means that alternatives need to be on the table. There was talk of creating a working group to establish the regulatory outline and a blueprint for energy resilience, with the shared understanding that the hydrogen economy cannot come at the cost of local energy provision.
Artist’s impression of a green hydrogen plant
The current attention on ESG principles in investment and business – and the environment in particular – were discussed, especially the infamous “red dust”. Both parties agreed that this was a challenge that required the cooperation of many public institutions and entities. Similar challenges had been overcome in, for example, Australia, but to achieve it would need financial resources and political will.
There were also frank discussions about procurement policies and the rigorous structures that have been put in place to ensure transparency at every stage of the process. Some businesses did not see the SBIDZ as a means to expand their business or, oppositely, expected all their contracts to come from the SBIDZ. This is being addressed through several meetings or initiatives with the business community – consistent and clear communication is the key to maintaining and expanding trust in the SBIDZ’s processes.
Ms Danielle Manuel, Executive Stakeholder Management and Ms Vanessa Davidson, Special Project Manager: Marine Infrastructure, both from the SBIDZ, explained the planned and ongoing developments. These include the investment plans of Anchora Enterprises, a specialist maritime industry service company, and 34 South, for Africa’s first green ship recycling company.
The frank and open discussions boded well for our future collaboration with the Saldanha Bay Municipality.