President Cyril Ramaphosa says Special Economic Zones (SEZ)  can work as launching pads for much-needed economic recovery in the country. Ramaphosa says government wants to use these zones to attract direct foreign investment into the areas where they are situated.

He was speaking at the launch of the Atlantis Special Economic Zone on the West Coast. He has urged the people of Atlantis to look at this as a great opportunity.

Ramaphosa says government sees Special Economic Zones as integral to efforts to re-ignite economic growth and job creation.

He says countries like China have used these successfully to propel towns that were totally under-developed in to thriving metropolis.

“Investors are flocking to this SEZ. They are coming in the great numbers and we welcome that. As we develop the zones we need to be expanding the range of our own ambitions and our own dreams but matching that with what we do as government to make sure that we do create a conducive environment for investors to come.”

Atlantis is an economically depressed area. Over the years, government has taken measures to attract investment in the area. It has therefore become a major hub for especially electronic manufacturing. Government is hoping to attract even more investment to the area through the declaration of the Special Economic Zone.

Ramaphosa says this SEZ is a great opportunity that the people of Atlantis should embrace.

“You are sitting on a great potential launching pad which I would like you to use because through this, as we set it up, we’ve been able to attract investors and as investors come and as we see that there’s greater interests from the business community, we, as government, will respond with more and more incentives to inject a further growth in the economy of Atlantis. “

Western Cape Premier Helen Zille says if government is serious about attracting investment, it must do something about the red tape as it makes it difficult to invest.

“I think if we are serious about jobs, we’ve got to get rid of those barriers and be honest about what they are, no matter the political cross that attends them. Because if we continue to have youth unemployment in South Africa there won’t be any other political cost that is bigger than that.”

The president says this is exactly what government is committed to doing. He says so far the SEZ’s have attracted R11 billion in investment. He has added, however, that he expects it to grow.

“I want to see this growing and doubling by next year. I want to hear that it has gone to R23 billion by the following year. I want to hear that is going to R46 billion and this is what I have set out for the ministers here. That is their performance target. That is what this country needs right now.”

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