The launch of the Yekani Manufacturing factory at the East London Special Economic Zone (ELIDZ) is expected to create at least 1 000 new jobs for the community.
The R1 billion smart factory was launched by Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies on Tuesday.
The 100% black-owned Information and Communication Technology (ICT) electronics and manufacturing company is a beneficiary of the Department of Trade and Industry’s Black Industrialists Programme and the Special Economic Zone Fund.
“What we are witnessing today is a company that is getting into this space, which is very important as we prepare ourselves for the 4th Industrialist Revolution. This is an example of what we can do if we put our minds to it. I think this an investment to celebrate at a number of levels in an industry that is of strategic importance and key to job creation,” said Davies at the launch.
The dti provided R350 million for the construction of the factory that is located in the ELIDZ through the Special Economic Zones Fund. The company also received a R50 million grant under the Black Industrialists Programme for the machinery at the plant. Through the grant, the company will be able to employ a further 1 000 people.
Formed in 1998, the company currently manufactures DSTV’s Explora HD decoders, TEAC television sets, set-top boxes and tablets.
The launch, said the Minister, comes as South Africa has not been able to manufacture enough electronics products with a heavy reliance on imported tablets, cell phones and all kinds of electronic equipment.
Group Chief Executive Office of Yekani, Dr. Siphiwe Cele, said the new facilities will allow Yekani to lead the way in technology innovation and to help Africa secure its rightful place among global technology leaders.
Cele said the company wants the world to know that Africans are capable of pioneering new technology and also nurturing young people.
The launch of the 28 000 square metre state-of-the-art smart factory comes at a time when the country commemorates Youth Month.
“The timing of the launch is opportune. Youth Month allows Yekani to reaffirm its commitment to invest in the youth. Our new home is a stronghold where young people’s brilliance will be nurtured with an ultimate objective of forming a pool of entrepreneurs within this group,” Cele said.
The new facility, which currently employs approximately 400 people, is kitted with 11 new surface mount technology (SMT) machines.
Funding for the project was an effort from various stakeholders that included the dti, private financial institutions as well as the company itself.
The Black Industrialists Scheme was announced in 2016 and at that time, government’s target was to support 100 Black Industrialists by the end of the 2018/19 financial year. This target was exceeded in March when 102 Black Industrialists were approved for financial support.