NELSON Mandela Bay is on the verge of clinching two multimillion-rand investment deals with South Korean companies in the energy industry which could boost the city's economy and create jobs.
One company has already verbally committed to investing R50-million in the city and the other has offered to throw a skills exchange programme into the deal.
A high-powered delegation of municipal officials and senior bosses at the Coega Development Corporation (CDC), led by mayor Ben Fihla, have all but signed the deals with a company in the renewable energy industry and a business which supplies high-vol tage electricity infrastructure.
The team, which includes Coega chief executive Pepi Silinga, arrived back from their week-long visit to South Korea yesterday.
News of the potential investments comes as call centre company Mutual Financial Analysts launches in Walmer this week. The Cape Town company will create 300 jobs and is to invest about R12-million in the Bay's economy.
The municipality's economic development head, Anele Qaba, is also negotiating with three other companies to bring an investment of at least R600-million to the metro.
These are in the renewable energy components manufacturing industry, the electronics industry and the pharmaceuticals industry, and could create more than 3500 jobs.
Qaba said the trip to South Korea had been successful as they had talks with several companies interested in the possibility of investing in the Bay.
The companies are in the nuclear industry, ship repairing, biomass, energy efficiency and environmentally friendly furnace operations.
"We had back-to-back meetings, but most interesting is that one investor in the renewable energy industry has agreed in principle to invest more than R50-million into the region in the initial stages, with high prospects to grow in the next five years," Qaba said.
Negotiations with the company started early last year and the visit was an attempt to seal the deal.
"The presence of the executive mayor [Fihla] added a lot of weight and has assisted a lot in gaining the confidence of the investor ... [who] is planning to visit our region once again [next month] to tie up a few other things with the municipality."
Qaba said the second investor, a world leader in the supply of high- voltage electrical infrastructure, had shown great interest in investing in the Bay.
"I would say we have more than a 90% chance to [secure] the business. The investor ... is planning to set up a plant for the South African market and for exports to Africa and other parts of the world."
He said the company had also offered the municipality the opportunity for a skills exchange programme aimed at the city's youth.
"The skills programme is viewed as an instrumental intervention for the growth of any sector, and this South Korean company has expertise in the nuclear and renewable industry that our region and country would benefit from immensely."
However, the municipality's poor aftercare services for business were costing the city a number of potential investments, Qaba said.
"This is receiving greater focus by both the political and administrative leadership, and plans to remedy the situation have been put in place by the office and already implemented in other areas."