The government’s plan for a new city in South Africa is to grow cannabis

Gauteng’s Prime Minister David Makhura says his provincial government is planning to develop a new Smart City in the Vaal Triangle that he wants to make the “cannabis capital of Africa”.

In a media briefing on Tuesday (October 26), Makhura said the project, which includes areas in the Free State and Mpumalanga Province, will become the cornerstone of a new Special Economic Zone (SEZ).

Unlike other smart city models proposed for the country, Makhura noted that the Vaal Smart City would focus on new technologies, including:

  • A new logistics sector;
  • A center of the cannabis industry;
  • A hub for the hydrogen economy in the Gauteng region.

“The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Competition and the provincial government of Gauteng, in cooperation with the Sedibeng District Administration, have already established the SEZ company Vaal River and the program management unit in accordance with the applicable laws in order to be more specific in coordinating and accelerating all planning and implementation Shovel-ready projects that will catalyze the entire smart city and SEZ, ”Makhura said.

However, the Prime Minister noted that the Sedibeng region has faced serious services in recent years. Some analysts recently postulated that it is the worst run church in South Africa.

“We as the government fully understand that the main obstacle to the realization of SEZ and Smart City has been the deterioration of infrastructure and the decline in the quality of governance,” said Makhura.

“Poor maintenance of the infrastructure, sanitary infrastructure and poor governance have led to the sewer spillage in the Vaal and the resulting devastating impact on the Vaal’s economy and environment.”

To address these service delivery issues, Makhura said the road infrastructure in the area would be greatly improved, including the construction of the new transportation hub that will catalyze the development of the smart city and SEZ on the Vaal River.

He added that other maintenance and infrastructure measures would be introduced to support the new smart city development.

“The team of administrators has renovated and repaired 15 substations to alleviate the chronic power problems that are terribly affecting Sedibeng’s communities and businesses. We have procured 30 waste collection vehicles for Emfuleni Municipality to improve waste management and disposal.

“Our drive to re-industrialize this region has led the government to further encourage local businesses to develop into new opportunities and to support existing businesses to compete.”

Hydrogen and cannabis

A key differentiator for the city of Vaal will be a heavy focus on the hydrogen economy, Makhura said. “Energy company Sasol and Mitochondria Renewable lead groundbreaking initiatives to make Vaal the hydrogen business hub for Gauteng.”

Several renewable energy initiatives are underway and these will create new industries and small businesses that will provide jobs and income to the people of this region:

  • Solar and battery storage;
  • Biomass;
  • Hydrogen;
  • Circular economy;
  • Carbon deposition.

Makhura said a Vaal Cannabis Consortium, coordinated by MK Malefane, has also put forward plans that include large investments in developing Vaal as the main hub for cannabis cultivation, processing and export.

All of these initiatives must be inclusive, transformative and empowering for small businesses and townships based in Vaal, he said. He added that they need to bring black business people, women and young people to this region in order to play a meaningful role.

Makhura said the intention is to make the Vaal the “Cannabis Capital of Africa”.

“The new sector, which has enormous potential to provide opportunities for new emerging farmers and new industrialists who grow and process cannabis for medicinal and other uses,” he said.

“The planning for Lanseria is complete. Now we’re focusing on Vaal River City and SEZ. “

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