Development of the Saldanha Bay Industrial Development Zone (SBIDZ) is poised to change the fortunes of small businesses in a region where access to business opportunities have notoriously been few and far between.
The SBIDZ is establishing a “one-stop-shop” for the oil and gas services industry that aims to reduce the administrative delays, red tape, and regulatory hurdles that investors face in South Africa.
Saldanha Bay was chosen because it is strategically located to serve the large oil and gas sector on the African continent owing to an increasing number of oil rigs requiring maintenance as well as their traffic flow past the West Coast to the East Coast of Africa.
The focus will be on providing maintenance and repair, fabrication, supply and other services that the oil and gas industry might need.
President Zuma handed over the Industrial Development Zone Operator Permit to the Western Cape in October 2013.
At the event, the SBIDZ Licencing Company (LiCO), a subsidiary of investment and trade promotion agency Wesgro, was given legal status as the IDZ Operator.
Laura Peinke, LiCO’s business development head, says small businesses are encouraged to take part in the SBIDZ’s development.
There is no formal application process, and the opportunities are open to all small businesses wanting to grow.
She stresses that, although the focus is on oil and gas, this does not mean that crude oil and natural gas would be imported or exported.
SBIDZ is an oil and gas services complex that includes rig repair, and small businesses will be considered for maintenance, fabrication and manufacturing of oil field equipment and its servicing, as well as logistics support activities.
There are additional opportunities in support services such as catering, accommodation, financial services, and so on that will not be located directly within the IDZ, but are as important as those in the IDZ.
Interested businesses do not necessarily need to be based in Saldanha or the West Coast.
Says Peinke: “As an IDZ we are mandated to grow the economy and create sustainable job opportunities, and a large portion of the services will come from the location closest to the IDZ.
However, a large part of the existing SME competencies in oil and gas in South Africa come from around the country, not only from Saldanha Bay or the West Coast area.”
Companies need to meet international standards and requirements in order to be considered for these opportunities, which are likely to come in the form of accreditation or certification standards.
For instance, manufacturing companies should be International Standards Organisation (ISO) accredited, and accommodation companies should be graded by the Tourism Grading Council of SA.
Peinke says that while this may increase their chances, it does not necessarily mean that companies will automatically benefit or be awarded contracts.
An agreement is in place with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to finance these accreditation needs.
An inclusive and transparent IDZ Business Forum, with representatives from member-based, local business-focused organisations has been established to facilitate the funding. Forum members include the Cape Chamber’s West Coast Chapter, Saldanha Bay Black Business Women’s Association, Saldanha Bay Tourism Organisation, West Coast Business Development Centre, and Weskus Sakekamer.
IDZ Business Forum representatives have asked companies to submit profiles in order to identify those that require assistance.
A forum representative, Abigail Murray, who is the CEO of the West Coast Business Development Centre (WCBDC), says she would like to see as many local small businesses benefit from the project as possible.
Murray says the WCBDC will help develop small businesses to a standard where can be absorbed into further development programmes of the IDZ licensing company, that will in turn develop them to the standards required by international investors.
The WCBDC’s role is also to filter down information gained at meetings to small business clients and to contribute its resources.
The SBIDZ has not yet started with construction projects, nor have any investors come on board.
“The SBIDZ still needs to follow some regulatory processes in order to be compliant, and infrastructure planning still needs to be finalised,” says Peinke.
- Business owners can contact Laura Peinke on [email protected] or 022 714 0206 .