Shakeel Meer is the IDC’s Divisional Executive for the Chemicals & Textiles Industries. Picture: SUPPLIED
Shakeel Meer is the IDC’s Divisional Executive for the Chemicals & Textiles Industries. Picture: SUPPLIED

The Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), in collaboration with the Department of Trade and Industry, has launched Kevali Chemicals in the Maluti-A-Phofung special economic zone (SEZ).

Kevali is SA’s first black manufacturer in the chemicals sector to make a range of water-treatment chemicals, cleaning and disinfecting solutions, as well as adhesives.

As part of the department’s black industrialists programme the IDC invested millions of rand into the company, creating 57 direct and 12 indirect jobs.

Employees also get a stake in the business through equity in a workers’ trust.

"Because we understand the critical importance of black industrialists’ participation in the chemicals sector, funding projects such as Kevali is important to the IDC," Shakeel Meer, the IDC’s divisional executive for the chemicals and textiles industries, said on Wednesday.

"Kevali is playing a critical intermediate role in the chemicals value chain. Its products are a key input to the food and beverage industry, with businesses like this helping to reduce … ultimate costs to the consumer," Meer said.

Launched in mid-2017, the 1,038ha Maluti-A-Phofung SEZ, which lies just off the main highway between Durban and Johannesburg near Harrismith, provides "qualified investors" with a 15% corporate tax rate instead of the normal 28%, a building allowance, the 12I tax allowance incentive to develop greenfields operations and a customs-controlled area.

It is one of numerous apartheid-era industrial parks adjacent to former "Bantustans". The government has allocated more than R289m to revive these areas.

Kevali, which was founded by five industry professionals, "saw a gap in the market", Funeka Khumalo, the group’s executive director said on Wednesday.

In the last financial year, the IDC had approved more than R2bn in funding in the chemicals value chain, of which more than R1bn went to black industrialists.

Meanwhile, this week, Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies also opened the R1bn Yekani information and communication technology electronics manufacturing facility, in the East London SEZ.

Yekani is 100% black-owned and makes television decoders, TEAC television sets, set-top boxes and tablet computers. It will employ 1,000 more people as a result of its expansion in the SEZ.

The company is a beneficiary of a R50m grant through the government’s black industrialists programme and R350m from the SEZ fund. Production at the factory will replace the importation of some electronic equipment.

"What we are witnessing today is a company that is getting into this space [electronics], which is very important as we prepare ourselves for the fourth industrial revolution," Davies said on Tuesday, referring to data and digitally driven technologies.

"We believe that this new home will allow us to showcase our capability, flexibility, expertise and quality as well as contribution to the development of the manufacturing industry, not only in the country but also on the African continent," Yekani CEO Siphiwe Cele said.

The black industrialists scheme announced in 2016 has aimed to support 100 black industrialists by the end of the 2018-19 financial year. But by the end of March, this target had already been exceeded.