Multibillion-rand investments in the Coega Special Economic Zone are laying the foundation for Gqeberha to realise its true potential as a city.
That is the view of veteran Remax estate agent Alan Moore, who believes the SEZ’s successes should not be seen in isolation but as a catalyst for change in Nelson Mandela Bay.
Coega announced in September that 120 000 jobs had been created since the zone’s inception in 1999.
In recent years it has welcomed significant investment from local and international companies. These include auto giant Stellantis, which will build a R3-billion greenfield manufacturing facility expected to come on stream in 2026.
Meanwhile, the R100-billion Hive Energy Green Ammonia plant is set to supply Japan, South Korea and Europe with gas once up and running.
A memorandum of cooperation to this effect was signed between South Africa and Japan in October.
Moore said these developments were significant for the city and much bigger than people realised.
“When Coega was launched we were told that it would change the city’s landscape and industry. For a long time, however, we just considered it to be something that was happening along the coast that didn’t really have any ‘wow’ factor,” he said.
“But if we now look and listen to what is happening and pay attention to how much money is being invested it could prove to be a very exciting prospect for all of us.”
While a report by property market intelligence portal Lightstone revealed in August that the Eastern Cape was the most undesirable province in the country due to its high unemployment rate and low contribution to GDP, it also noted the region’s huge potential as a tourism destination.
According to Moore, the investments being made at Coega could quickly turn the situation around.
“It all revolves around jobs. If people can eat and be positive about their future, then that will be the boost the city needs.
“Coega certainly has the potential to do that.”
Gqeberha had a warm ocean, magnificent beaches, a robust sporting environment and world-class destinations on its doorstep, Moore said.
“All that is needed is to leverage them properly.”
He said the city also remained one of the cheapest places to live in the country.
“You can have a country lifestyle or an oceanside lifestyle.
“It should also be remembered that what residents of the city consider a high-end purchase is not so for those coming from bigger centres. They can’t believe what they get for their money.”
Moore, who is celebrating his 20th year in the property game this year, said the public might be surprised to learn how many people who grew up in Gqeberha and made their careers overseas were aiming to return.
He had several clients in this bracket and said it was an eye-opener as to what people were really thinking.
“The fact is they are confident enough to come back. I think sometimes we don’t notice what is happening, but if we take a step back it’s actually very encouraging.
“The team at Coega have got their eye on the ball and what they have done should be celebrated.”