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Manufacturing is enjoying good growth around Durban

Sappi’s massive Saiccor Mill on KwaZulu-Natal’s south coast is on course to grow even bigger. The company is conducting feasibility studies to construct a plant to produce furfural. The pilot plant will be erected in the course of 2022.

The Saiccor mill has the capacity to produce approximately 800 000 tons of dissolving pulp per annum, mostly export. Capacity will rise above 900 000 tons once an expansion project is complete.

Aluminium producer Hulamin experienced reduced demand during the Covid-19 lockdowns but has secured a number of good orders, including to supply product to a US manufacturer of electric vehicles. Hulamin had previously laid off some workers and closed one of its factories in another province. The company believes that its restructuring is working well, and its beverage business is thriving. Hulamin also makes rolled products at Edendale, Pietermaritzburg and at Camps Drift.

Dube TradePort attracted R7-billion in private and public sector investment between 2012 and 2019 and, with its ideal position for logistics operations, is expected to attract much more. The province’s other Special Economic Zone (SEZ), the Richards Bay Industrial Development Zone (RBIDZ), is attracting investments in a wide range of sectors.

Cipla, the Indian manufacturer of generic drugs, is building a new facility at Dube TradePort to complement its existing factory in Durban. LG Electronics South Africa has opened a R21-million factory and distribution centre in Cornubia, north of Durban. The manufacturing sector contributes 17.7% to the provincial Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of KwaZulu Natal. The strongest export sectors are base metals (32% including aluminium), mineral products such as ores, vehicles and chemical products.

New opportunities in the Blue economy (ship-building and maintenance, oil-rig repair and servicing) and the Green economy (solar panel manufacture, solar, biogas and wind energy plant construction, management and maintenance, heating and cooling devices) are set to grow in KwaZulu-Natal with the allocation of geographical hubs to support these sectors, and the introduction of policies and incentives designed to make them competitive.

Two large oil refineries and a sophisticated sugar milling and refining industry underpin provincial chemical manufacturing although the SAPREF refinery announced a suspension of operations in February 2022. The chemicals and petrochemicals subsector makes up 17% of the manufacturing output of KwaZulu-Natal, with industrial chemicals accounting for nearly a third. Steel and aluminium are other heavy manufacturing products. Newcastle is a chemical manufacturing hub. 

Reasons to invest in Durban

  • Extensive first-world road, rail, sea and air infrastructure;
  • Dube TradePort and King Shaka International Airport – 60-year Master Plan – driving growth of aerotropolis, or airport city
  • Rated in top 5 ‘Quality of Living’ cities in Africa and Middle East by Mercer Consulting in 2015 and 2016; 
  • Durban was ranked as the least congested Metro City in SA, according to the global “Tom Tom Traffic Index” (TTTI) 2017, at 22% (compared to SA’s most congested City at 35%). 390 Cities in 48 countries were indexed and ranked.

If you are interested to do business, trade or invest in Durban, contact Invest Durban today:


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