Lighting provider Lighting Innovations has, in collaboration with the Nelson Mandela Bay City Council, officially opened a newly constructed R60-million manufacturing facility.
The investment would see the expansion of Johannesburg-based Lighting Innovations’manufacturing capabilities to the Eastern Cape – a region targeted as strategic for infrastructure and manufacturing capability development, as envisaged in the National Development Plan.
The plant manufactures energy efficient lighting systems and boasts a robotic wiring facility, precision computer numerically controlled machines, tooling for new designs, a fully automated powder coating plant, as well as new capital equipment.
The collaboration saw the Nelson Mandela Bay metropolitan municipality providing Lighting Innovations with investment incentives in the form of tax rebates and stipulated discounts on water and electricity allocation. “However, we in no way funded the project,” a municipal spokesperson told Engineering News Online.
“As part of our economic development strategy and the job creation plan that was approved by the council earlier this year, investment promotion has been recognised as a key driver for the realisation of the region’s socioeconomic goals,” Nelson Mandela Bay executive mayor Ben Fihla said at the official opening of the facility on Thursday.
“Having this investment in our region will help the municipality, which is facing a dwindling budget, while contributing significantly to job creation,” he commented.
Fihla added that the investment would not only contribute to the regional diversification of the manufacturing sector, but also strengthen the existing metals sector.
“The metals sector is highly labour intensive and carries great potential for skills transfer. This sector is, in fact, one of the targeted growth nodes for the region and the Eastern Cape province as a whole,” said the mayor.
The 8 000 m2 manufacturing facility will initially employ some 100 workers, but this number is expected to increase to 150 by the end of the year, which Lighting Innovations CEO Bruce Waddell said indicated the manufacturer’s intent to leverage the local skills base in the production of local goods.
However, he cautioned that, for the company to further advance manufacturing opportunities in South Africa and the Eastern Cape, it would require support from “decision-makers” in the procurement of lighting products.
Against the backdrop of inexpensive, low-performing imports from Asia, which presented extremely high maintenance costs, Waddell said the acceleration of local content was “desperately” needed to monitor and sustain the highest possible norms for quality lighting in South Africa.
“Government must send a clear message to industry and commerce to support locally produced goods. Our new factory clearly demonstrates our commitment to this national priority with the additional benefit of allowing for easier shipment in a growing export industry,” he said.
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