Gauteng Premier David Makhura says Sedibeng Special Economic Zone to be turned into a medical cannabis trading and processing hub. He says provincial government already engaging with growers
Gauteng Premier David Makhura accompanied President Cyril Ramaphosa to the Vaal Triangle on 12 August 2022 to meet residents and outline the Government’s plans to beat the 64% unemployment rate – the highest in the province.
Speaking on the sidelines at the Presidential Impizo, Makhura noted that Sedibeng was a troubled area and that cannabis was a key factor in driving the economic regeneration programme
While speaking at the Presidential Imbizo, Gauteng Premier David Makhura noted that cannabis could hold the key to unlocking economic potential in the Vaal.
Makhura stressed that the production and processing of the plant would be for medicinal use. He noted that there were growers in Vaal and they want to turn the area into a trade cannabis hub in the province.
“This cannabis production and cannabis processing, particularly for medicinal use…we have growers here in the Vaal. We want to turn the Vaal into a trade cannabis hub in the Gauteng province. We have met with them, we have already engaged with those cannabis growers, they are there,” said Makhura. He added that it would not be sold recreationally.
BusinessTech reported earlier this year that specific areas that are being considered include:
Funding and capitalisation mechanism for cannabis/hemp cultivation, processing and distribution;
Exchange, trading and aggregation platforms for domestic and export markets including certification and quality assurance partnership proposals;
Aggregation schemes for cultivation and processing;
Cannabis-driven carbon reduction and bioremediation program including rehabilitation of compromised mine lands.
Bioremediation is a process that uses mainly microorganisms, plants, or microbial or plant enzymes to detoxify contaminants in the soil and other environments. Scientific studies have shown that hemp/cannabis plants are particularly suited to this work.
For its part, the Gauteng provincial government is prepared to offer leases on state-owned land as well as tenancy in special economic zones to work on the project.
It has also proposed collaborative funding and potential partnerships with other government departments to help grow the local cannabis industry.
Makhura first announced plans to establish the country’s first cannabis hub in his state of the province address in February 2022. The proposal forms part of a R45 billion smart city development in the Vaal River area.
He said that the Vaal River development will include a number of other features including:
A green hydrogen innovation hub
An aerotropolis and aerodrome
A steel manufacturing sector
“All the four municipalities in the district have collectively made land available for this Special Economic Zone development. Notwithstanding some delays in the finalisation of the master plan, we are firmly on track to kickstart the revitalisation of the Sedibeng economy this year,” he said.
The government has identified cannabis as a key economic differentiator for South Africa in the coming years.