Atlantis Special Economic Zone for Green Technologies Celebrates Another Momentum Milestone
  Sep 30, 2019     News, greentech, investment, Atlantis SEZ

30 September 2019 – The Atlantis Special Economic Zone for Green Technologies (ASEZ) is celebrating another milestone in its progress momentum, leading up to and following its official designation in June 2018 and launch by President Cyril Ramaphosa on 6 December 2018.


“GreenCape has been the appointed Atlantis SEZ project management unit since 2013, responsible for coordinating the application for designation. At the end of September 2019, we are celebrating more than 6 years of successful partnerships that have led to this milestone of a designated Atlantis Special Economic Zone for Green Technologies, as we hand over the project management unit functions from GreenCape to Wesgro for the new Atlantis SEZ Entity to take the zone forward into the future,” said Francis Jackson, GreenCape ASEZ Project Executive.


At this juncture, with the successful designation of the SEZ, Wesgro has been appointed by the Western Cape Provincial Government to establish the registration of a Provincial Entity to meet the requirements of the SEZ Act, and the capacitation of this entity to be able to transact and fulfil the aspirations set in the application for designation.


Momentum Milestones: From ideation to designation


The Atlantis SEZ is the result of more than six years of collaborative effort by the City of Cape Town, the Western Cape Government and the national Department of Trade and Industry (the dti). The ASEZ has come a long way from the original seed of the idea in 2011; wherein the concept of a greentech hub in Atlantis was launched by the City of Cape Town. When the Department of Trade and Industry (dti) launched the SEZ program in 2013, Atlantis was nominated to participate.


After the signing of a memorandum of understanding with the dti in 2013, the Western Cape Government submitted an application in 2015 to the dti to have parts of the Atlantis Industrial area declared an SEZ. The submission of the application followed the introduction of a new national SEZ Policy which aimed to address the challenges with the government’s previous Industrial Development Zone (IDZ) programme.


The policy review and the new SEZ Programme, which began in 2007, was also brought about by the developments in national economic policies and strategies such as the National Industrial Policy Framework, and the New Growth Path, as well as developments in the global economic environment such as the formation of BRICS. Other relevant policies include the Industrial Policy Action Plan (IPAP). Provincially, the zone complements the Western Cape Government Green Economy Strategy Framework, and the City of Cape Town’s Atlantis 2023 strategy.


One way to pave the way for a greentech SEZ was to establish a greentech industrial park in Atlantis. The City of Cape Town provided land for the park to support the revitalisation of Atlantis as a strategic development node. The revitalisation work would involve a re-engineering of existing business clusters and support for future-focused sectors (in this case, the greentech sector). The greentech hub and then proposed SEZ, support the manufacturing sectors to become suppliers and component manufacturers for the renewable energy sector, in particular independent power producers in the government’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producers Programme (REIPPP). The concept then evolved to the inclusion of a wider range of green technologies. The City of Cape Town made 118.6 hectares available for the designated area and facilitation of investment into this land was done under an intergovernmental protocol agreement between the Western Cape Government and the City of Cape Town.


The dti held public consultations in October 2017, and received overwhelming support in favour of establishing the Atlantis SEZ. On 7 June 2018, the South African Cabinet approved the decision by the then Minister of Trade and Industry to designate the Atlantis Special Economic Zone. This was after the Special Economic Zones Advisory Board was satisfied with the rationale and scale of economic opportunities in the region, and recommended that the then Minister of Trade and Industry designate the proposed area and grant a Special Economic Zones License to the Western Cape Provincial Department of Economic Opportunities.


GreenCape continued to represent the Western Cape through the function of Project Management Unit until 30 September 2019, the point where the Atlantis SEZ team, incubated in Wesgro, were ready to take over and move the project into a provincial entity as per the SEZ Act.


Impact Delivered


GreenCape spearheaded the collaborative approach with the three tiers of government during the period of its appointment as the Atlantis SEZ project management unit, and more than R700 million has already been invested in the Atlantis SEZ, including manufacturers of wind turbine towers, geotextiles, double-glazed windows, wind tower internals and acetylene gas. Because of these investments, more than 322 new jobs have been created in the zone to date, with the majority of the positions filled by Atlantis residents.


Investors have had and will continue to have access to extensive investment support through the One Stop Shop for investor support and the rest of the investor support ecosystem, which includes InvestSA, GreenCape, the City of Cape Town, and Wesgro. Together the ecosystem provides information and advocacy; market intelligence; facilitated access to permits and licenses, planning and development approval; and skills training.


“This collaborative theme has been the secret to Atlantis punching above its weight in investment promotion, skills development and enterprise development, leveraging an ecosystem of aligned entities in such a way that the sum impact is greater than the parts,” said Tim Harris, CEO of Wesgro. “The combined work of Wesgro, City of Cape Town, InvestSA and GreenCape in promoting and landing investors is a uniquely effective approach that has been yielding results recognised in UNCTAD awards on more than one occasion,” he added.


Over this time, skills development has been prioritised to ensure local skills meet the needs of industry located in Atlantis. To this end, the youth has benefited from training, mentoring, exposure to greentech, and participation in the annual Renewable Energy Challenge and career expo, all of which will help them tap into greentech job opportunities emerging from the SEZ.


“Community’s role has been fundamental to the ethos of the development of the ASEZ. The designated area of the SEZ is embedded in the existing Atlantis Industria and is mere blocks from the residential area. The ASEZ will succeed and be relevant to its context if it goes beyond being a siloed enclave and embeds itself into the physical, social and economic context of Atlantis,” said Alderman James Vos, Mayoral Committee member for Economic Opportunities and Asset Management “The work with community members this year has been unique in the landscape of economic infrastructure development, seeing community participating in co-creating the SEZ’s implementation plans and ultimately shaping their representative structures,” he added.


Handing over the baton: From designation to ASEZ Entity  


GreenCape is handing over the experiences and insights from the past few years in the form of a Package of Plans adopted by the Atlantis SEZ. This set of strategies and implementation plans draws on the foundations set in the strategy drafted by Deloitte in 2015, and an update to elements of the strategy compiled by Nova Economics in 2018.


This includes: Phase 1 of infrastructure development, which is a first phase plan motivated by the Deloitte strategy to catalyse landing SMMEs under roof, providing an incubator base and cementing the ASEZ’s presence in the zone. The rest of the plans cover the work streams defined by the dti as critical to the operationalising of an SEZ, namely Investment Promotion and Facilitation, Communications and Marketing, Stakeholder Management, Skills Development and Enterprise Development.


The latter two plans drew strongly on engagement with community members on the theme, wherein through public workshops in Atlantis, the validity of the strategic intent was verified and insights drawn on practical implementation that would suit community’s need.


On a practical level, the Atlantis SEZ office at Sarebi that was managed by GreenCape is now moving to a new location (which will be communicated shortly), and will be managed by Wesgro for the SEZ Entity in the interim. Please contact the Atlantis SEZ team at to get in touch.