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Manufacturing sector growth encouraged through regional industrial policy

An overview of the manufacturing sector in the Free State.

The Free State Regional Industrialisation Policy is being reviewed to ensure integration of infrastructure, bulk service provision, industrial sites and export and tax incentives to encourage investment in the manufacturing sector.

Manufacturing makes up 9% of Free State gross domestic product, and this comprises 4% of South Africa’s total. The Industrial Park in Botshabelo, a R60-million project that was re-launched in 2016, is part of a large-scale systematic plan to revitalise industrial parks in the province.

Innovation in manufacturing is encouraged at the Product Development Technology Station (PDTS) at the Central University of Technology (CUT). The PDTS helps small businesses with the technology to design new products, to test them or to improve existing products. The PDTS is funded by the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) and works in partnership with another CUT unit, the Centre for Rapid Prototyping and Manufacturing (CRPM).

Tax and other incentives are attracting manufacturers to the province’s Special Economic Zone (SEZ), the 1 000 ha Maluti-a-Phofung SEZ at Harrismith on the N3. Companies from China, Bulgaria and India have expressed interest. Among the projects in the pipeline are a factory making transformers and one to make medical equipment.

The state of Manufacturing in the Free State

The existing manufacturing sector has capacity in many sectors including chemicals, agri-processing, textiles, carpets, engineering, packaging, furniture and jewellery.

Harrismith is home to Nouwens Carpets and Boxmore Plastics. Boxmore Packaging’s new PET beer bottles are the first PET bottles specifically designed for beer on the SA market. Empire Gloves makes industrial gloves. Kroonstad-based Octa Engineering makes specialised rail carriages for the mining sector. In Bloemfontein, Transnet Engineering manufactures new wagons for the Transnet group, including iron ore and cement wagons and fuel tankers.

The Industrial Development Corporation is supporting the clothing and textile industry with loans and investments. The towns of Botshabelo, QwaQwa and Thaba Nchu have factories employing several thousand people.

Nearly 20% of the Free State’s manufacturing sites are devoted to food and beverages. Landzicht Wine Cellar, an operation that distributes 2.4-million litres of wine every year from Jacobsdal, has a new bottling plant.

Chemicals are a major sector within the Free State manufacturing basket. Sasol, Omnia and AECI are the major companies.

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