KZN North Coast a ‘commercial sleeping giant’
30 January 2019 | Web Article Number: ME201913353
SOME 10 years ago it was first announced that Provincial and National Government had earmarked the North Coast of KwaZulu-Natal as the next big growth area for the country, and this made sense for a number of reasons.
Firstly, the North Coast is well positioned between two of the busiest ports in Africa, namely Durban and Richards Bay, and secondly, at around the same time King Shaka International Airport (as it was later named) was to be completed and developed as the ‘springboard’ into Southern and Central Africa. Completed before the opening of the FIFA World Cup football tournament in 2010, this airport has become a catalyst for a shift in capital flow into KZN’s North Coast.
It is now abundantly clear to all that we are seeing the results of this strategy and vision becoming a reality, and I believe that we are sitting on the cusp of the next big surge. Change is often slow to start, but once a planned strategy has broken through the initial phase of scepticism the uptake and growth can become exponential.
So, what are the key drivers? The semigration phenomenon, which sees families moving down from the inland regions and the ‘breadwinner’ commuting, has now changed to more businesses and business owners moving to the North Coast lock stock and barrel.
Lifestyle also has a huge bearing on the choices that are being made, with proximity to King Shaka International Airport, new schools, hospitals, regional retail centres and multiple recreation options, as well as the temperate climate, being critical features of the North Coast. As the momentum grows, so do other opportunities in terms of supporting the commercial, logistics and retail infrastructure.
The North Coast has become populated by a multitude of entrepreneurs breathing new and vibrant energy into the area. Many small businesses and home businesses have blossomed and become the norm, all of which has led to complementary business opportunities.
In terms of larger industry there has been a big shift as a result of what has already happened and what is planned to happen in the next 10 years. In the south, in addition to Umhlanga and surrounds, we have the Cornubia office and industrial development.
Flanking the airport on the West is the Dube Trade Port Special Economic Zone, the Agrizone and the Cargo & Logistics Hub. The larger planned Aerotropolis will have enormous benefits for the North Coast region and will be well positioned as a global logistics and manufacturing centre for sub-Saharan Africa and other parts of the world. Already international organisations such as Samsung, Mahindra, Yangtze Optics Africa and more are moving to the area. Major logistics companies have begun operations to service the growth and need.
North of King Shaka Airport are a plethora of opportunities in commercial, retail and manufacturing for large and entrepreneurial investors. The rental demand for office and small manufacturing and logistics businesses is growing, thus making it an ideal investors’ market. The hub of the North Coast has shifted to Ballito, and with this being the new centre the commercial and retail growth is palpable.
Visibility from the N2, R102 and M4 roads as well as accessibility play a significant part in making the area viable. Growth is inevitable and opportunities are plentiful – and this is reflected in the prediction that there will be a need for 12 000 houses in the next seven to eight years in this North Coast area.
Mark Johnson is Licensee of Seeff North Coast