Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape, South Africa, 24 July 2018: Automaker BAIC Group today announced the completion of the critical construction and equipment installation milestones for Phase 1 of the historic R11 billion investment which was announced in 2016.
At a special milestone event hosted today, BAIC announced the completion of the semi-knocked-down (SKD) line and satisfactory progress on construction work streams of its vehicle assembly plant located in the Coega Special Economic Zone (SEZ). The company announced today that the full-scale production of its compact SUV, the BAIC X25 will commence in 2018 Q4.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping unveiled the first-ever BAIC vehicle assembled on African soil live via video link from Centurion.
The BAIC SA investment – one of 26 bilateral agreements, with a total value of R94 billion, signed in 2015 between SA and China – is the single largest investment in South Africa in 40 years.
The project is the result of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the South African government’s industrial policy implementation arm, the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) and Chinese state-owned Global Fortune 500 company BAIC Group, which manufactures BAIC models as well as Hyundai and Mercedes-branded cars for the Chinese market through its Beijing Hyundai and Beijing Benz joint ventures agreements.
The R2 billion Phase 1 of the BAIC SA plant, comprises a 4 200 m² office block, an assembly and body shop of 42 000 m², and robotic equipment. Construction will commence shortly on the 21 000 m² paint shop, scheduled to be completed by the end of 2019.
BAIC describes its new facility in Coega as “high standard, environmentally friendly and intelligent.”
The manufacturing process and the entire plant design is fully considerate of energy conservation and environmental protection by adopting mature, advanced, low pollution and energy saving manufacturing technologies.
The factory also makes use of artificial intelligence (AI).
HALLMARK OF CHINA-SA RELATIONS, AND BRICS VISION
With 2018 marking the 20-year anniversary of bilateral trade, investment and economic relations between South Africa and China, the BAIC SA project is not only set to dramatically advance the economy of Nelson Mandela Bay through investment in the East, but also offers BAIC a strategic geographic manufacturing and export base to realize its global strategy. Sixty per cent (60%) of vehicles manufactured at the BAIC SA plant are destined for export markets in Africa, the Middle East and Latin America, with the remaining 40% for the South African market. BAIC currently has 17 dealerships in South Africa and plans to announce further expansions.
At the event, Xu Heyi, chairman of BAIC Group, described the relationship between South Africa and China as one of “golden cooperation”, which ensures the realisation of prosperity through BRICS cooperation.
“The BAIC SA project advances both countries and is testimony to this week’s BRICS Summit theme which centers on inclusive growth and shared prosperity in the 4th Industrial Revolution,” said chairman Xu.
IDC CEO Geoffrey Qhena says the event will further redefine economic ties between South Africa and China.
“Over and above this particular investment, we expect positive spin-offs in additional investments and job creation from the numerous local and foreign components manufactured in the supply chain,” says Qhena.
He says the planned development of the industrial supplier part satisfies the needs identified in President Ramaphosa’s New Deal to promote meaningful economic participation by small enterprises.
JOB BOOST FOR SOUTH AFRICA
To date, 1 540 direct construction jobs were created following the ground-breaking ceremony of the BAIC plant in Coega in 2016.
The company has also released forecasts on permanent employment in South Africa.
BAIC said 120 employees will be employed by the end of 2018.
MANDELA BAY BLACK-OWNED SMALL BUSINESSES BENEFIT
In relation to Small, Medium and Micro-sized Enterprises (SMME) beneficiation, BAIC said that 73 SMMEs (51% black-owned CIDB grading 1 – 6) participated in various construction and other related work streams during Phase 1.
The total value contracts awarded to SMMEs in Phase 1 was R200 million.
Forthcoming projects such as the paint shop, landscaping, and other external works stream, due to be completed by the end of this year, will ensure BAIC reaching its SMME participation goal of 35% in Phase 1.
BAIC has over the last two years extensively engaged automotive South African component manufacturers and suppliers through a procurement and supply division.
BAIC SA has successfully engaged and formed MOUs with the first group of local suppliers to develop our South African supply chains. This year’s localized parts procurement plan will include 39 parts; mainly based on the production of accessories for interior parts, such as roof lining, carpets and seats, amongst other.
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