Lindsay Ralphs. Picture: FINANCIAL MAIL
Lindsay Ralphs. Picture: FINANCIAL MAIL

SA needs real GDP growth to create employment and prosperity, says Bidvest CEO Lindsay Ralphs.

Ralphs was speaking at the installation of the world’s largest liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) storage tanks in Richards Bay on Thursday.

“SA needs real GDP growth to create employment and prosperity for all. This is the responsibility of both the public and private sectors. Bidvest is cognisant of the need for business to invest to establish and grow productive and efficient businesses and industries,” Ralphs said.

Up until now these benefits have been difficult to unlock, for the simple reason that the supply of LPG in SA has been inadequate and inconsistent. This facility will change that equation dramatically

The R1bn LPG facility is expected to increase the supply of the fuel to SA by 200,000 tonnes, which is half of current demand, he said, and will also enable the export of the fuel to neighbouring countries.

Bidvest Tank Terminals, a unit of the Bidvest Group and independent LPG specialists and traders Petredec, have partnered to develop the import and storage terminal, which is on track for commissioning by mid-2020.

Ralphs said the facility will stimulate the expansion of the LPG value chain and create numerous opportunities for small, micro and medium enterprises. He said the project is in line with Bidvest’s intentions to disrupt the sectors in which it operates.

“We continue to invest in innovation and facilities, product and service lines. We continue to see pockets of opportunity and we are actively assessing numerous possibilities — supplying into renewable energy wind farms that will, collectively, benefit our freight, commercial products and electrical divisions, is another good example,” he said.

Petredec MD Lee Furby lauded the benefits of LPG, citing reduced load on the country’s constrained national electrical grid and improved health and safety.

“Up until now these benefits have been difficult to unlock, for the simple reason that the supply of LPG in SA has been inadequate and inconsistent. This facility will change that equation dramatically,” Furby said.  

Also speaking at the event, KwaZulu-Natal MEC for economic development, tourism and environmental affairs Nomusa Dube-Ncube, said the investment will have a positive impact on Richards Bay and KwaZulu-Natal, saying: “Apart from strengthening our status as SA’s transport and logistics hub, the importance of this Bidvest Tank Terminals lies in the fact that the KwaZulu-Natal provincial government has a vision of positioning the Richards Bay industrial zone as an infrastructure hub for oil and gas.” 

njobenis@businesslive.co.za