KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala has commended Swedish multinational food packaging and processing company, Tetra Pak, for its multi-million investment that will create new jobs in the wake of COVID-19 and related socio-economic challenges.

Tetra Pak South Africa announced the investment of approximately R500 million to upgrade the production capacity of its packaging material factory in Pinetown, Durban.

The investment will go towards upgrading and increasing the production capability of their packaging material factory located at the plant in Pinetown.

Speaking at the event, Zikalala said the announcement of the investment confirms a long-term commitment to KwaZulu-Natal, and showcases South Africa as a key manufacturing hub, with the capacity in infrastructure and skills to serve all the Southern Africa markets.

“We welcome this injection of half a billion rand into our economy, which will certainly foster economic growth and boost much-needed jobs in the province. At a time when the global economy is hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, the provincial government is pleased that Tetra Pak’s investment will safeguard approximately 120 jobs, with an additional minimum of 20 new technical professionals to be employed.

“We are also excited about Tetra Pak’s long-term vision [and] from this current production location, the company is seeking to position itself as an export hub for South Africa and a platform for growth on our wider continent.

“KwaZulu-Natal has mounted an energetic, diplomatic engagement to invite investment into our province to create jobs and safeguard livelihoods,” Zikalala said.

The Premier said the Tetra Pak investment adds strength and vigour to the “harmonious fraternal” relations between Sweden and South Africa.

“We located this investment within the objectives of the KwaZulu-Natal Economic Recovery and Transformation Plan, which is working to cushion the devastating impact of COVID-19 on the economy and livelihoods.”

Operation Vula Fund

In order to bring the black majority in the mainstream economy and reduce race based and gender-based poverty and inequality, the Premier said the provincial government launched Operation Vula Fund as the cornerstone of the KwaZulu-Natal Economic Recovery and Transformation Plan.

In June 2021, equipment with a combined value of R300 million was disbursed to more than 1 000 Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs), and no less than 42% of the successful applicants were youth-owned businesses.

Funding was also approved to 447 women-owned businesses, which represents 43% of the total successful applications lodged with Operation Vula Fund.

The provincial government is also implementing the policy of 30% set aside for women, youth and black-owned SMMEs. It is further implementing the targets on local procurement, with 35% allocated to the youth, 30% women, 5% people with disabilities, and 60% allocated to Africans.

“Working with a country like Sweden and a company like Tetra Pak, we are confident that we can grow the provincial economy, create employment, and lift the living standards of all our people, black and white.

“Our government has a carefully conceived programme of radical socio-economic transformation that is being implemented on a daily basis with demonstrable results. Our task is to help support skills development, attain policy certainty, remove red tape, fight crime and protect investments,” Zikalala said.

Tetra Pak Southern Africa Managing Director, Stefan Fagerang, said the Pinetown investment is about increasing the local content of its manufactured product by 50% to 80%.

“The investment also supports the company’s commitment to be carbon neutral by 2030 and its ability to serve the Southern African market,” Fagerang said.

Tetra Pak Pinetown factory director, Muhammad Waqas Ali, said with the new state of the art plant, if a customer needs to respond to market changes, “we will be able to accommodate such changes with a quick turnaround.”

Source: South African Government News Agency

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