The fourth-largest provincial economy of South Africa has much to offer local and international investors.

Mpumalanga Province is one of South Africa’s most productive and important agricultural regions. It also offers an ideal climate and topography for forests, major mineral resources, formidable manufacturing capacity as well as a sophisticated and well-segmented tourism sector. A wide range of raw materials are available for beneficiation.

Main economic sectors in Mpumalanga:
  • Mining
  • Energy
  • Tourism
  • Agriculture
  • Manufacturing
  • Forestry
  • Agro-processing
  • Automotive
Top exports:
  • Coal
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Cane sugar
  • Ferro-alloys
  • Manganese
  • Wood
  • Citrus fruit
Top export markets (2014):
  • Mozambique: R2.8-billion
  • India: R1.9-billion
  • Netherlands: R1.8-billion
  • United States: R1.7-billion
  • Japan: R1.3-billion
  • Swaziland: R1.2-billion
  • Hong Kong: R0.8-billion

1. Mining

Mining has played a vital role in the economy of South Africa for over 100 years. According to the Chamber of Mines, the mining industry contributed R286-billion towards the South African GDP in 2015, representing 7.1% of GDP, and the sector directly contributed R89.4-billion to fixed investment in 2015, while R3.7-billion in royalties and R12.5-billion in taxes were paid to the South African government in 2015/2016.

Mining dominates the provincial economy, mostly coal mining, which supplies Eskom’s eleven coal-fired power plants that are located in the province. The mining sector accounts for a quarter of all economic activity in the province and is also the largest single sector, providing employment to 25% of the province’s workforce.

The major mining activity in the province is centred on the coal and lignite industry. Mpumalanga contributes 83% of all coal produced in South Africa. Towns such as eMalahleni (formerly known as Witbank) and Middelburg in the Nkangala District Municipality are at the centre of the coal-mining industry.

A significant percentage of the province’s coal is exported to countries such as China, India, South Korea, and Japan. It is the world’s third-largest coal-exporting region. Mpumalanga’s coal-mining industry is developing into a significant attraction for both foreign and local direct investment in the province.

To discuss opportunities in the mining industry in Mpumalanga, please contact MEGA (Mpumalanga Economic Growth Agency).

2. Agriculture

About 14% of the province’s land area is natural grazing land that is used in the production of beef, mutton, poultry, dairy and wool.

The Mbombela district in the Lowveld is South Africa’s second-biggest producer of citrus fruit, while more than half of South Africa’s soya bean crop is produced in Mpumalanga’s Highveld areas.

The agriculture sector in Mpumalanga can be divided into two broad categories:
  1. Summer cereals and legumes: This consists of maize, soya, canola, and sunflower that has – in the main – been cultivated in the Highveld region of the province.
  2. Tropical, subtropical and citrus fruits, nuts and cane sugar: These are mainly cultivated in the Lowveld region of the Province.

Mpumalanga is one of South Africa’s most productive and important agricultural regions and plays a key role in the export profile of South Africa, primarily in fruit and nuts.

Key figures:
  • The region exports over 10 million cartons of avocados annually.
  • About a quarter of SA’s tobacco crop is cultivated in Mpumalanga.
  • The Province generates R950-million in turnover from subtropical fruit, which employs about 13 000 people.

To discuss opportunities in the agricultural industry in Mpumalanga, please contact MEGA (Mpumalanga Economic Growth Agency).

3. Manufacturing

Mpumalanga has a diverse manufacturing sector that accounts for 15% of provincial GGP, in addition to an expanding retail sector. There are two primary pillars of the manufacturing sector in Mpumalanga, and these account for more than 75% of the output for this sector:

  1. Fuel, petroleum, and chemical products
  2. Metal, machinery, and appliances

The fuel, petroleum and chemical products manufactured in Mpumalanga are essentially synthetic fuel and its by-products, which are produced from coal in the Highveld region of the province.

The other major components of the manufacturing sector are the ferro-alloy, steel and stainless steel industries based in eMalahleni (Witbank) and Middelburg in the Nkangala District Municipality.

Agro-processing is centred primarily in the Lowveld region of Mpumalanga and it makes a valuable contribution to the provincial economy’s manufacturing sector. Agro-processing is centred on processing the vast amounts of tropical and subtropical fruit and nuts
cultivated in the Lowveld.

To discuss Manufacturing opportunities in Mpumalanga, please contact MEGA (Mpumalanga Economic Growth Agency).

4. Forestry

Forestry is a key driver for the development of South Africa’s local economies, particularly in rural areas where the lack of employment opportunities compounds poverty. The bulk of South Africa’s forestry plantations are in Mpumalanga, followed by KwaZulu-Natal Province. Mpumalanga Province is the biggest producer of forest and wood products and the this sector accounts for 12.3% of South Africa’s agricultural GDP.

The annual value of the South African forestry industry is R40-billion. The forestry sector comprises logging, saw-milling, wood products, pulp, and paper as well as specialised cellulose for global markets.

Pulp, paper, and specialised cellulose are the main exports, along with sawn lumber, wood chips and wattle extract.

The industry is ideally positioned for recycling initiatives.

The forestry products sector continues to contribute about 1% to national GDP, with the Far East, Europe and the UK making up its major export markets. The export market for pulp and paper from South Africa remains strong and, buoyed by better margins, pulp production figures have been on the rise since 2007.

Global paper giants Sappi, Mondi and SAFCOL are the biggest investors in the sector and have extensive plantations and mill operations in the province, which is home to Africa’s biggest integrated pulp and paper mill.

Mpumalanga has the ideal climate and topography for forests, with South Africa’s biggest sawmill and largest panel and board plant. Attractive opportunities exist for small-scale growers, contractors and saw millers, while forested areas also lend themselves to beekeeping and honey-making.

To discuss opportunities in the forestry industry in Mpumalanga, please contact MEGA (Mpumalanga Economic Growth Agency).

5. Tourism

The tourism industry in the Mpumalanga Province is one of the most strategic sectors and has the potential to grow the economy and contribute to job creation. Mpumalanga boasts world-class parks and reserves, astonishing botanical gardens, rivers, and lakes.

Safaris are a major draw card, and the Kruger National Park is the jewel in South Africa’s tourism crown, while sub-sectors such as business travel (including conference facilities), adventure, heritage, and cultural tourism all hold huge growth potential.

The Kruger brings R2-billion annually to the South African national economy.

Over 1.3 million international tourists visited Mpumalanga in 2015 with international tourists spending R3-billion in the province. The casino industry has enjoyed great growth and shows signs of further potential for additional investment.

In addition to the establishment a Provincial Liberation Heritage Route, priority investment projects that have been highlighted include:

a) A cable car over a part of the Blyde River Canyon

The spectacular Blyde River Canyon in Mpumalanga Province.

MEGA is in discussions with a possible investment partner to build the Blyde River Canyon Cable Car Project, which will transport tourists from the top of the Blyde River Canyon to the peninsula below in the middle of the Blyde Lake.

The cable car will provide an exciting experience and spectacular views over and around the Blyde Canyon to generate income for the Province. This unique Blyde River Canyon Cable Car will be a major international tourist attraction and is seen to rival any similar project in the world.

Few destinations are as breath-taking as the Blyde River Canyon in South Africa. It is 25 kilometres in length and is, on average, around 750 metres deep with legendary viewing points such as the God’s Window, which provides some of the most spectacular views in South Africa.

It is also the deepest green canyon in the world, making it an attractive investment opportunity in tourism infrastructure.

Learn more about the Blyde River Canyon Cable Car Project.

b) A cantilevered glass walkway at God’s Window

The Gods Window Skywalk will be a commercial, income generating project, and modelled on the successful US based “Grand Canyon Skywalk” in Arizona State situated on the edge of a side canyon in the American Grand Canyon. This Skywalk, a transparent horseshoe-shaped cantilever bridge, has become a major tourist attraction and income generator.

The God’s Window Skywalk Project will complement the yet-to-be constructed Blyde River Canyon Cable Car that will transport tourists from the top of the Blyde River Canyon to the peninsula below in the middle of the Blyde Lake.

The Skywalk at God’s Window is envisaged to be a cantilevered glass walkway, viewing deck suspended off the edge of the Gods Window cliffs, offering 360° panoramic views with a 700 metres view down through a glass floor.

This project is likely to benefit from more than one million tourists a year that visits Mpumalanga Province.

Learn more about the God’s Window Skywalk Project.

c) An International Convention Centre (ICC) in the capital, Mbombela

The yet-to-be built International Convention Centre in the Mpumalanga Province’s Capital, Mbombela, is expected to accommodate up to 5000 seated participants and ensure versatile conversion for multi-purpose usage.

The plan also includes a centre accommodating in-door sports such as boxing tournaments, basketball, etc. It will also be fully equipped with the latest catering and audiovisual facilities, as well as ancillary meeting rooms and other conferencing amenities.

The new centre could take a bigger share of a lucrative market, which could draw thousands of extra visitors a year in the province of Mpumalanga.

The City of Mbombela offers easy access to many of the world’s finest game parks and is close to the Eastern Escarpment, a 1 200-metre wall of jagged mountain towering above the African bush. The city is also home to the National Botanical Gardens, set in 154 hectares of land along the eastern bank of the Crocodile River, containing at least 512 plant species indigenous to the area.

A province of vast potential

South Africa’s third most visited province, Mpumalanga has a sophisticated and well-segmented tourism sector attracting both foreign and local investment interest. The world’s most luxurious private game lodges are located around Kruger.

To discuss investment opportunities in Mpumalanga, please contact the Mpumalanga Economic Growth Agency (MEGA) for more details.

Contact MEGA