PRETORIA, The Coega Industrial Development Zone (IDZ) has signed 61 new investors with a combined investment value of R35.8 billion in the Eastern Cape, says Premier Phumulo Masualle.

“The recent investment of R11 billion by Chinese OEM (BAIC) and R4 billion by VW has consolidated the province’s dominant position as the strategic auto sector HUB,” Masualle said.

Delivering his State of the Province Address on Friday, Masualle said Coega IDZ has created 18 366 jobs thus far, of which 7 174 are operational jobs and 11 192 are construction jobs.

“The East London IDZ signed three new investors for the year 2016/17 with an investment value of R779 million, thus creating 417 direct manufacturing jobs.

“Furthermore, the East London IDZ has awarded R30 million of its total expenditure during the 2016/17 financial year for Small, Medium and Micro-sized Enterprises (SMME) development. Moving forward, we are consolidating our IDZs in order to achieve synergies and efficiencies,” Masualle said.

The Eastern Cape Economic Development Department has developed a strategy based on six economic sectors on which the province has a comparative advantage, namely, agricultural development, oceans economy, tourism, renewable energy, light manufacturing and automotive industry.

“Our Industrial Development Zones and State Owned Entities, COEGA IDZ, ELIDZ and the Eastern Cape Development Corporation have amongst themselves signed new significant investment deals, promoted trade exports and funded new businesses.

“The IDZs have attracted investment in the agro-processing, automotive, aquaculture, energy, metals logistics and business process services sectors. This has advanced socio-economic development in the Eastern Cape region through skills development, technology transfer and job creation,” he said.

Furthermore, the Eastern Cape province has improved the provision of water and sanitation to schools.

According to a Community Survey conducted by Statistics SA, there has been an improvement in the provision of water to schools, from 23 schools in 2014, to 342 schools currently.

“In terms of provision of sanitation facilities to schools, there has been an improvement from 47 schools in 2014, to 287 schools currently,” Masualle said.

He said government’s efforts to improve early childhood development (ECD) was beginning to yield results as more children have been enrolled at ECD centres throughout the province.

“As we speak, ECD coverage in the province has improved to reach 98% of public schools.

“Similarly, 1 599 046 learners benefitted from ‘no fee schools’ by the second quarter of 2016, and 1 476 479 qualifying learners also benefitted from the school nutrition programme,” he said.

The Premier further said that Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Colleges in the province will realign their curriculum to bolster agricultural development and economic initiatives within the province.