A regional overview of Free State By John Young
A regional overview of the Free State By John Young
With acquisitions in the chemicals sector, drilling about to start for natural gas and the bedding down of a new Special Economic Zone, there are opportunities for growth in the Free State economy.
s of February 2020, nearly 100 new permanent jobs had been created within the Maluti-a-Phofung Special Economic Zone (MAP SEZ), the strategically located area on the N3 highway designed to attract new investment to the Free State Province. Sectors prioritised at the MAP SEZ include logistics, ICT, automotive, pharmaceuticals, manufacturing and agro-processing. The 1 000ha site has four zones: agro-processing, light industrial, heavy industrial and a container terminal. Control of the project now rests with the provincial Department of Small Business Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (DESTEA). Other areas that are being upgraded to provide infrastructure to encourage manufacturing are the Phuthaditjhaba Industrial Park and the Botshabelo Industrial Park. The N3 is South Africa’s busiest road and the Highway Junction truckstop at the entrance to Harrismith claims to be Africa’s biggest. More than 1 500 vehicles pass through every day and three forecourts cater to three fuel brands. Refuelling, storage and handling take place here, highlighting the province’s strengths in logistics as the country’s most central province.
FREE STATE BUSINESS 2021
The country’s two great highways pass through the province. The N3 links the ports of Richards Bay and Durban with the industrial heartland and the N1 provides north-south connectivity. The provincial capital, Bloemfontein, is another logistics hub. Three other national highways intersect the province which is also well served by rail and air links. The Bram Fischer International Airport serves the provincial capital. Links to the west (Kimberley and on to Namibia) and east (to Lesotho) underpin the planning behind the N8 Corridor concept which covers Bloemfontein, Botshabelo and Thaba Nchu. A plan for the coordinated development of the N8 Corridor has been approved by a range of bodies and is being funded by the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) and the Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality.
Projects and purchases The Omnia Group is present in 45 countries, has more than 4 400 employees and a net asset value of R9.7-billion (March 2020). The company’s agricultural and chemicals divisions have a large