Focus on PMB and the Midlands
Umgungundlovu District Municipality’s vision was to evolve into a metropolitan area and the retention and expansion of business was pivotal in achieving this, said uMgungundlovu District Municipality Mayor Cllr TE Maphumulo.
Welcoming delegates to the fifth district municipal roadshow by Trade & Investment KwaZulu-Natal (TIKZN) in partnership with the KZN Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs and the district municipality, Maphumulo said to realise the vision of becoming a metropolitan centre it was important to create infrastructure and an environment that would attract investors.
She encouraged business and local and district municipal officials present to be active participants in the initiative which aimed to map a way forward for economic opportunities for all communities. “You need to share ideas. This is a significant exercise – not a talk show – and the outcomes need to translate into developments that impact positively on the communities.”
“The realisation of our vision hangs on the type of partnership that is built. We are grateful to TIKZN for holding our hand in a partnership which we believe will yield the desired outcomes,” she said.
Pietermaritzburg and the Midlands – Umgungundlovu – had the opportunity to be the centre of medical excellence not only for South Africa but for Africa, said Melanie Veness, Chief Executive of the Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business, in her opening address.
Over the past five years there has been enormous growth in the private health care sector. All the private hospitals had expanded and others were built, a new eye clinic had recently opened; the Royal Hotel had been converted into a first-class medical step-down facility and a specialist neonatal hospital was mooted.
“We need to develop strong partnerships to make the most of what is happening naturally without much intervention and it is something we need to support,” she said.
Bemoaning the fact that the district had huge potential, yet there was no medical training centre of excellence, Veness said: “We could be supplying doctors and nurses for the whole of South Africa and Africa.
“When the private sector sees an opportunity for growth, our job is, in partnership, to make sure that the environment for business is as conducive as possible. All we have to do is to provide those basic services well and make them more affordable than they are elsewhere. In some cases our tariffs are no-longer competitive.
“We need to sit around the table, put our heads together, come up with creative solutions, listen to what the market has to say and respond to it appropriately,” she said.
Outlining TIKZN’s activities, Project Manager Innocent Hlongwana said the organisation identifies, develops and packages investment opportunities in KwaZulu-Natal; provides a professional service to all clientele; brands and markets KwaZulu-Natal as an investment destination; retains and expands trade and export activities and links opportunities to the developmental needs of the KwaZulu-Natal community.
“We help clients take their manufacturing ideas through the process, from the research required into the concept and its viability, to developing a business plan and helping to take the concept to potential funders. Once funding is secured we assist the client to take the project to fruition. Some of the assistance can also be financial up to R250 000 on a 50/50 shared basis.”
Other assistance includes help with imports and exports and participation in Department of Trade and Industry trade missions.
Main picture caption: Xolani Muthwa, Umgungundlovu Chief Fire and Emergency Services; Sibusiso Mkhize, Umgungundlovu Manager Social Services; Hashila Daya, TIKZN Business Retention Officer; Rob Haswell, former Pietermaritzburg City Manager; Dulcie Sokhela, Director Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business; Eunice Majola, Msunduzi Municipality chairwoman, Economic Development and City Enterprises. Front: Umgungundlovu District Municipality Mayor Cllr TE Maphumulo.