The recent approval of the 30-year Aetrotopolis master plan will bring much needed jobs for the Gauteng province.
The City of Ekurhuleni at its council meeting at the end of October approved the master plan which will pave the way for economic impact that is projected at R8.1 billion per annum.
Ekurhuleni Mayor Mzwadile Masina said the Aerotropolis — which is located near the renowned OR Tambo International Airport — is envisaged to be a game-changing intervention that would facilitate spatial, economic and social transformation.
Using labour intensive scenarios, the Aerotropolis promises massive job creation, set to change the landscape of joblessness in the city and the Gauteng province.
The master plan, the Mayor said, has been developed to identify projects in sectors such as retail, aerospace, advanced manufacturing, logistics and distribution, research and development, health and life sciences to be used enablers of economic turnaround plan.
Spokesperson for the municipality, Themba Radebe, said the plan has been in the pipeline for about five years.
The City of Ekurhuleni, the Gauteng Provincial Government and the Airports Company South Africa have embarked on the development of Ekurhuleni Aerotropolis.
“This programme is a deliberate growth trajectory that aims to reposition and enhance the value proposition of the Gauteng City Region, with a particular emphasis of the Ekurhuleni Regional Economy as the footprint of the first Aerotropolis in the African continent,” said Mayor Masina.
The Aerotropolis — the first on the African continent — leverages on the presence of the airport which handles 19 million passengers every year and has the capacity for 60 million passengers.
OR Tambo International Airport also handles 83% of all air cargo movements, thus playing a critical economic role for South Africa, Gauteng and Ekurhuleni.
“The OR Tambo International Airport is in a good position to accelerate its logistic and air cargo activities regionally. The airport is already a gateway for the transit of high value time sensitive products, such as electronic equipment, as well as textiles and footwear for nearby countries,” the Mayor said.
At the centre of the master plan is to redesign the city’s layout, infrastructure and economy to be centred on a major airport.
Masina said that the critical road infrastructure networks are being prioritised to unlock the footprint of the Aerotropolis to enable mobility, integration and densification.
“This through exploring ways of leveraging the economic opportunities created from having the OR Tambo International Airport located in the city to position the city to become a destination for investors seeking to relocate their operations.”
When coming to funding, the Mayor said, the project requires a multi-layered approach that is capable of leveraging on the financial capabilities of the private and public sector.
“The funding plan requires strategic partnerships between all stakeholders, including government, development finance institutions, property owners, developers and investors, research and development agencies, institute of higher learning, external funders and underwriters through a systematic and coordinated integrated development planning process in order to deliver the strategic objectives of the Aerotropolis.”