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BCMDA Conference: Property Development, Revitalization and Attracting Investment

Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality kicked off its 2019 Investment Conference at the International Conference Centre, East London on Wednesday, 27 November 2019.

The theme for the Conference is “Power Partnerships – Growing a Better City Together”. The BCMDA through this conference seeks to attract investment for BCMM in a bid to revitalize the City by fixing certain infrastructure that is dilapidated. The conference has called upon several speakers from various organisations to strike up connections that might enable BCMM to get back in good stead economically, structurally and socially.

BCMM Executive Mayor, Councillor Xola Pakati kicked off proceedings and spoke about BCMM needing to “diversify its economy and making it multisector” where partnerships are forged with businesses and government to boost investment within the municipality. Pakati revealed that BCMM is currently undergoing a process of building a 5G Network Subsea Fibre Optic Cable which will link East London to the world. The cable is reported to be the first of its kind within South Africa.

BCMM and ELIDZ aim to make East London, “SA’s best Asia-centric communications hub, vaulting it into the perfect position to be SA’s call centre capital, and the gateway to communication with India, China, and the Far East, into Africa.” This initiative is believed to have the potential to boost youth development, tech development, etc.

Pakati mentioned that the municipality would release 20 hectares of land and allocate a sum of R7-Billion for Mixed-Use Development and the revitalization(R5,5-Billion) and upgrading of Waterworld and East London racetrack(R1,5-Billion).

Abey Kgotle, Executive Director of HR and Corporate Affairs from Mercedes Benz South Africa gave an update on what has been happening at MBSA since the last Investment Conference which was last year.
Kgotle started by speaking about MBSA celebrating 25 years of the Mercedes C-Class Plant which is based in East London and how they have been performing on the gender diversity part at their workplace which has seen more women being employed over the years. In addition, the speaker mentioned MBSA plans to build a New Generation C-Class Plant within their East London branch.

Kgotle said the construction of the plant would produce “1800+ jobs and R10-Billion would be used to build this expansion plant”. The inception of the new C-Class Model and plant will take effect in 2021. This is reported to be part of the Automotive Production & Development Programme (APDP).
Bulumko Nelana, CEO of BCMDA recapped on the outcomes made at last year’s Conference. The outcomes were “cleaning the city, release of land for development and promulgate bylaws allowing property development, and addressing the deterioration of EL CBD and surrounding areas over the last 10 years.”

Nelana mentioned that BCMDA will spend R3, 3-Million to fix and upgrade areas such as Quigney, Southernwood, and parts of Oxford Street.
The BCMDA CEO spoke about projects that are on the pipeline currently and the amount of money allocated for these projects which seek to revitalise certain parts of East London. BCMDA secured an investment for Sleeper Site Precinct, property value worth R3,5-Billion whilst Waterworld has property valuation worth R1,5-Billion. The projects are expected to be concluded in 2023.

During the post-lunch session, Portia Tau Sekati, CEO of Property Sector Charter Council gave insights on the Charter Council and the issue of transformation within the Property Sector in South Africa. Sekati explained the purpose of Property Sector Research and the findings that were made regarding the SA Property Sector.

“The objective of the research, is to create the knowledge and size about the SA Property Sector”, said Tau-Sekati. It is reported SA Property Sector is worth R5,8-Trillion, which is 76% of South Africa’s Net Worth (R7,6-Trillion). Furthermore, Commercial Property according to Property Sector Charter Council is worth R1,3-Trillion.

Tau-Sekati gave out statistics about the number of informal houses within various provinces around the country. The Eastern Cape has over 26 300 Informal Houses, which is almost 5% for the whole country. During the discussion, there was a plea from one of the delegates that PSCC (Property Sector Charter Council) must start researching about calculating Tribal Lands and how much they contribute to the Property Sector.

Tau-Sekati went into detail as to why the matter of transformation is one of the cornerstones within the Council and how their members abide by this rule.

“All council members of the Property Sector Charter Council (PSCC) recognise that it is only by transforming the sector, promoting equal opportunity and creating access for previously disadvantaged individuals and companies, that South Africa will be able to create a world-class, competitive property industry.”

Tau-Sekati spoke about the 2019 State of Transformation of the Property Sector report, which indicates a varied picture of the sector’s B-BBEE performance over the past year. Transformation remains a key component of economic transformation in the country, especially given the input that the sector makes to the overall GDP.

Sekati lamented previously and even now that despite the significant strides made within the Property Sector since the arrival of the new Democratic Dispensation, problems are still evident.

“Progress towards certain transformation milestones is still limited and slow. There are skewed patterns of ownership, control, and management. This is specifically limited in terms of black and black women participation”, said Tau-Sekati.

As the first day of the Conference was about to end, there were presentations made about sites that will turn into urban regeneration areas within BCMM. Kreason Naidoo from Tshani Consulting made a presentation about the Sleeper Site Precinct.

Naidoo expressed his desire that the Sleeper Site Precinct Proposal would be the glue that links the CBD and Quigney Area. Naidoo stated that the project would begin on 1 December 2019 and that they would look to complete it in mid-2021.

The Investment Conference will conclude on Saturday with a Morning Park Run in Nahoon and later on with the Berlin November event.