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Jewellery bringing a shine to Gauteng

We are building a precinct to have an entire ecosystem with industries that will manufacture jewellery – GIDZ CEO Seipati Mangadi.

Ahead of completion of the Gauteng Industrial Development Zone’s (GIDZ’s) first phase in the OR Tambo International Airport precinct, the GIDZ has already trained and created a pipeline of jewellery designers to provide skills and services to jewellery manufacturing tenants at the designated industrial development zone.

Bulk infrastructure development for the GIDZ is on track for completion by March 2017. This will mark an important milestone in the ambition for the zone to facilitate focused manufacturing and beneficiation programmes to drive inclusive, export-driven economic growth while helping to position Gauteng as a globally-competitive city region.

GIDZ CEO Seipati Mangadi says in the meantime, the GIDZ has “embarked on a major investor-attraction drive locally and internationally” to attract tenants. “We are building a precinct to have an entire ecosystem with industries that will manufacture for export.”

While it is aimed primarily at the jewellery-manufacturing sector, plans are already afoot to bring in other industries. With a focus on low-mass high-value industries and beneficiation, GIDZ has identified the platinum group metals sector as part of the next phase of its development.

Among its most successful initiatives to date, has been the training of jewellery designers. “We already have a programme, and now have our fourth intake of post-graduate students specialising in commercial jewellery design and entrepreneurship, as we need to up our design skills. We are taking in 15 students a year to be trained and we are looking to increase that number and improve on other skills areas.”

These students are trained in the GIDZ studio, design@50, “with a programme we conceptualised, developed and implemented. We have a world-class studio with good facilitators with our alumni already going into businesses themselves, thereby creating a pipeline of designers who can cater to tenants that come in,” says Mangadi.

While there are other institutions in Gauteng focusing on training in jewellery manufacturing, the GIDZ looked at what the gap was and targeted and enrolled individuals who have a national diploma in jewellery to participate in a post-graduate diploma focusing on commercial jewellery design. “What we are offering is a concentration on entrepreneurial skills with our students becoming successful entrepreneurs. From there, the students can go into an incubation programme with our continued support to offer them opportunities at trade shows and opportunities to showcase their skills”.

The GIDZ is targeting both domestic and international potential tenants. “With regards to international tenants, we want to use them to create or have access to markets. We foresee that they will come here, manufacture and outsource to locals so that our local designs and products would find their way into the global market.”

Jewellery manufacturers are expected to account for between two and five major anchor tenants, with the rest being filled by medium-size and smaller tenants. “We have been to China and the US recently and there has been quite a lot of interest, but with that comes queries for more information and further engagement. We have not yet consolidated tenants,” Mangadi says.

The OR Tambo IDZ is a special economic zone under the custodianship of the Department of Trade and Industry, with SEZ incentives and infrastructure funding. Treasury is also involved, as there are tax incentives awarded to tenants which require approvals.

The GIDZ is also working with the South African Diamond and Precious Metals Regulator, which will issue licences; with the diamond industry “which is assisting us to get access to raw materials”; and the Mining Qualifications Authority (MQA), with whom we are looking at enhanced facilitation of our training programme. From a stakeholder relations perspective, the Jewellery Council of South Africa, is together with our Stakeholder Unit, playing a facilitator role in the industry, enabling the GIDZ to work closely with it and understand the industry needs.

While jewellery has been the focus, Mangadi says: “We really are about industries benefitting [from] being near the air freight logistics sector.” This would include horticulture/agroprocessing, platinum group metals and electronics.

“We have always been an industrial development zone concentrating on the enhancement of the  high-value, low-mass industry.” Jewellery was the best fit and was in line with the country’s mineral beneficiation strategy and it was an industry that required government involvement to get back to its former glory, she says. “We used to beneficiate about 7.4 tons of gold jewellery per annum; now we are producing 1.8 tons and artisans in the industry are all in their 50s. We therefore decided to create a precinct that would recatalyse this distressed industry, with a focus not just on jewellery, but the entire value chain, including diamonds and beneficiation in other minerals such as the platinum group metals.” 

Mangadi says low commodity prices strengthened its resolution to focus on local beneficiation. “Local jewellery gets imported, mostly from Asia. Now, with low commodity prices and the rand exchange rate, we are finding some of the big companies that would be importing starting to look at local beneficiation. We need competitive local production and we want to take advantage of that.”

This article was sponsored by the Gauteng Growth and Development Agency.

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