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Remarks by President Cyril Ramaphosa at the opening of the Hesto Harnesses manufacturing facility, Stanger, KwaDukuza

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Programme Director, 
Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition, Mr Ebrahim Patel,
Premier of KwaZulu-Natal, Ms Nomusa Dube-Ncube,
Ambassador of Japan to South Africa, His Excellency Mr Maruyama Norio,
Mayor of Ilembe District, Cllr Thobani Shandu,
Mayor of KwaDukuza, Cllr Lindi Nhaca,
Chairperson of Metair Investments Limited, Mr Michael Flemming, 
CEO of Metair Investments Limited, Mr Riaz Haffejee, 
Managing Director of Hesto, Mr William Hilditch,
Board Member of Yazaki, Mr Ito San,
President of Isuzu SA, Mr Billy Tom,
President of Ford Motor Company Africa, Mr Neale Hill,
Staff of Metair Investments and Hesto Harnesses, 
Representatives of labour, 
Amakhosi and community members present, 
Distinguished guests, 
Ladies and gentlemen. 

Good morning. 

It is a great pleasure to be here at the launch of this expansion project at Hesto Harnesses, a subsidiary of Metair Investments Limited. 

The reindustrialisation of South Africa’s economy is a key pillar of our Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Programme. 

Government has developed several industrial policy measures and is implementing far-reaching reforms to unlock growth opportunities in priority industries.

These include the automotive industry, and extend to areas such as clothing and textiles, chemicals and plastics, steel and metals fabrication, green industries, the digital economy and network industries like energy and transport. 

Disruptions to global supply chains caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have highlighted the need for companies all over the world to diversify their sources of supply. 

Not only do we need to diversify our manufacturing base.

We also need to improve the competitiveness and dynamism of South African manufacturing.

We need to increase participation in regional and global markets, reduce concentration and achieve effective transformation. 

This investment commitment by both Ford and Metair reflects long-term confidence in South Africa as a key link in the global automotive value chain. 

We need to work together to unlock new business opportunities, transformation and employment creation in South Africa’s component manufacturing landscape, just as we need to promote new investments in technology and skills. 

That is why the localisation rate in the Automotive Production Development Plan is targeted at 60 per cent by 2035. 

We will continue to drive increased localisation as the domestic sector moves into electric and other new energy vehicle assembly platforms. 

I understand that Metair is both supplier and a business partner to the vehicle assemblers, and that the company has been a driving force in achieving localisation targets. 

Through these efforts, the company has secured multiple contracts from Ford South Africa to support their production expansion strategy in South Africa. 

The automotive sector in South Africa is one of the biggest beneficiaries of foreign direct investment in the country. 

Despite all the challenges, 2021 was a significant year for automotive investments. 

According to the National Association of Automotive Manufacturers of South Africa, last year seven OEMs invested a total amount of R8.8 billion, the second highest annual figure on record. 

The components sector also invested a significant R5.7 billion last year. 

Our country remains one of the preferred investment destinations in Africa and is an important gateway for markets and other business opportunities throughout the continent. 

The African Continental Free Trade Area will further open opportunities for the development of export markets, the growth of industrial bases and the expansion of regional value chains. 

The South African economy has the potential to achieve a higher growth trajectory through unlocking competitive advantages in key sectors of the economy. 

As government, our role is to create an enabling environment for businesses such as this one to flourish. 

We are hard at work to implement institutional and governance reforms to support a sustained recovery in business and investor confidence. 

Unemployment is one of the greatest challenges in our country. 

It affects the livelihoods of individuals, the well-being of families and the development of society. 

It is therefore significant and most welcome that this facility will create over 4,000 employment opportunities, which will translate into a R30 million monthly spend on salaries and wages being injected into the iLembe District. 

The benefits of this investment will also be felt by maintenance, catering and other service providers that will be contracted to support these operations. 

I am aware of the strong skills development mandate that is being implemented across the Metair stable, including a new multi-million rand bursary and apprentice training programme. 

It is pleasing that there is a strong focus on female candidates, as is the fact that Hesto Harnesses is predominantly a female-driven operation with 70 per cent of employees being female. 

I want to take this opportunity to commend Minister Patel, Premier Dube-Ncube, the Mayors of Illembe and KwaDukuza and iNkosi uDube and their teams for their contribution in making this project come to fruition. 

This project, like many other projects in the automotive sector, was made possible because of the policy certainty created by the Automotive Master Plan and the Automotive Production and Development Programme. 

In this project we have demonstrated that we can build and rebuild together. 

We commend Ford for the confidence demonstrated by this major investment. 

We also laud the partnership between Hesto and Japanese company Yazaki. 

I want to again congratulate the Metair team on the launch of this facility and wish you great success. 

I thank you.