eThekwini Municipality— a municipality found in the South African province of KwaZulu-Natal, has announced that start-ups can join its chemicals accelerator program.
eThekwini is a major city in KwaZulu-Natal province and the third largest in the nation, with over 3 million residents. Because of the city’s warm subtropical climate and large beaches, it is renowned as one of the location of Africa’s best-managed and busiest port.
Supporting the expansion of manufacturing is a strategic goal for the city, according to Takalani Rathiyaya, director of the eThekwini Municipality’s department of economic development programs. Rathiyaya believes that the relationship between manufacturing and economic growth is crucial since manufacturing investments lead to job creation and equitable and sustainable industrial development.
The KwaZulu-Natal province is actually South Africa’s second-largest manufacturing presence, contributing 21% of the country’s manufacturing GDP. The eThekwini manufacturing industry is well-established. The industry also contributes to the eThekwini Municipality GDP and helped the city grow by 4.9% in 2021, with manufacturing, trade, and business accounting for 73% of the growth.
“For these reasons, manufacturing has been acknowledged as a powerful employment creator by national, provincial and local government and following this agenda, eThekwini has prioritized the development of the sector. Though we are only a couple of years into our industrial recovery plan, we are seeing the first green shoots in harnessing the industry’s potential to create high-income jobs, boost upstream development of local businesses as well as benefit from the multiplier effect for both formal and informal workers,” said Rathiyaya.
“Manufacturing is responsible for 20% of the employment opportunities in eThekwini which translates to 176 000 jobs of which 83% are semiskilled. Unemployment in the city is, however, sitting at 26% so, through various initiatives, we are striving to deepen the competitiveness of our manufacturing sector,” he added.
What the Chemicals Accelerator Program Offers
Four operational manufacturing clusters with a total of more than 200 member companies have been developed and are still supported by eThekwini to help it achieve its goals over the past two years.
The municipality is supporting a number of start-ups through the Durban Chemicals Cluster, Durban Automotive Cluster, KZN Clothing and Textiles Cluster, and the eThekwini Furniture Cluster, which are proven to be potent levers to unlock manufacturing growth.
Rathiyaya claims that the group has been able to identify the primary difficulties encountered by local manufacturers through intensive research with the member companies in the clusters.
“By creating interventions that directly impact skills and SME development, the sharing of international best practices and promoting transformation through leadership development, we have had some major wins that have supported manufacturing growth and job creation.”
“In collaboration with our member companies, we have developed numerous skills development programmes to attract new entrants to the sector. With over 400 learners busy with these skills-speciTc courses, we are successfully creating a pipeline of new talent.”
According to Rathiyaya, the industrial clusters plan to teach 1500 students over the next three years using their current resources due to the popularity of these programs.
He continues by saying that the clusters deserve praise for their substantial efforts to introduce global best practices to local businesses in addition to their work in talent development and transformation.