By Fakir Hassen
Johannesburg, May 28 (PTI) Mahindras new semi-knockdown assembly plant in the coastal South African city of Durban is expected to give a boost of more than R95 million (USD 7.7 million0 to the economy of the KwaZulu-Natal province.
The plant in the Dube TradePort Special Economic Zone (SEZ), next to the airport, which was officially opened on Friday by provincial Economic Development MEC Sihle Zikalala and Indian High Commissioner Ruchira Kamboj, has a capacity to produce 4,000 of Mahindra?s two models of its Pik-Up range, known as bakkies locally.
Besides sales in South Africa, where the Mahindra bakkies have been gaining ground, the assembly line will also turn out vehicles for export into the rest of Africa.
Speaking at the launch, provincial Economic Development head Zikalala said Mahindras decision to establish the assembly plant in KwaZulu-Natal was an indicator of the provinces "rising star in terms of investor confidence."
He added that the issue of unemployment in the region would also be addressed by Mahindra.
"Of the 24 staffers to be hired in the new assembly plant? we have been assured 80 per cent would be locals that had not been employed before and hopefully this would fit the youth profile?" Zikalala said.
He also commended Mahindra for its skills development initiatives, which have already seen scores of South Africans being skilled in India in various fields before returning to jobs at home.
"We also acknowledged that the company would be extensively investing in skills development, including sending staff to India to gain more capacities, which would contribute in the expansion of skills base in the province," Zikalala said.
Small and medium enterprises would also receive a boost as Mahindra plans to source 40 per cent of components locally.
Confirming this, Mahindra South Africa CEO Rajesh Gupta said it was part of Mahindras long-term plan to increase employment and help develop local companies through local sourcing.
Gupta explained how Mahindras market share in South Africa had grown exponentially since it first entered the country over a decade ago.
"In the last five years alone? it has grown its market share by a compound annual growth rate of over 4.6 per cent a year? which puts us in the league of the five fastest growing company in the same period.
"Much of this growth was achieved in a declining market (for motor vehicles) ? which indicates our increased acceptance and popularity in the South Africa market," he added. PTI FH SMJ AKJ SMJ SMJ