South Africa plans to revitalise its dormant state-owned industrial parks in a bid to bolster job creation and export growth. In a statement issued this week, the Minister of Trade and Industry, Rob Davies, said 10 industrial parks had already been identified for 'revitalisation and refurbishment'.

Many of the industrial parks are located in former 'homeland states' – the so-called 'bantustans' created by the former Apartheid government to accommodate blacks in their own 'sovereign states'. However, instead of attracting investment most of the sites never took off, due largely to disinvestment and rapid urbanisation in the post-Apartheid era.

Davies said the new Industrial Parks Programme formed part of South Africa's broader Industrial Policy Action Plan (IPAP), which aimed to promote industrialisation and boost manufacturing capacity – particularly of exportable goods.

“This was motivated by the recognition that these industrial parks have the capacity to serve as catalysts for broader economic and industrial development in their host regions, mainly townships and rural areas,” Davies said. “We would like to see them contributing to economic growth, diversification of economic activity, attracting investments to the areas they are located in, job creation and addressing the problem of inequality.

“The programme will go a long way in accelerating economic development in the lagging regions of the country by attracting investments from businesses that will be inspired to locate in the parks after they have been refurbished. It will also support job creation mainly in the manufacturing sector, assist in the development of the infrastructure and facilitate market access for companies operating from the parks. In this way, the regions will be able to build, strengthen and develop their strategic industrial capabilities,” he said.