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The Richards Bay Techno Hub was officially launched at an Innovation Day event today, 22 July 2016. The event was hosted by the the KZN Provincial Treasury in partnership with the Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs at the Richards Bay Industrial Development Zone (RBIDZ).

The focus and purpose of the project is based on what has been experienced and achieved internationally through the establishment and innovation of technology hubs.

Using foreign examples as "best practice" but with a good understanding of local conditions and opportunities in South Africa, the project will cater for the establishment, financing, designing, initial construction and preparation for the operating of four regional technology hubs in the province.

The four locations are uMsunduzi (at the Pietermaritzburg Airport), Newcastle (at the Newcastle Airport), Richards Bay (at the Richards Bay Industrial Development Zone [RBIDZ] Phase 1A site) and Hibiscus Coast (opposite the Shelly Mall, Shelly Beach).


The KwaZulu-Natal provincial treasury has begun leading the establishment of Techno Hubs in the province, with the first one officially established in Gamalakhe area, Port Shepstone on 30 June 2016.

The provincial treasury will launch the second Techno Hub in Richards Bay on 22 July 2016 in partnership with the Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs.

The focus and purpose of this project is based on what has been experienced and achieved internationally through the establishment and innovation of technology hubs. Using foreign examples as "best practice" but with a good understanding of conditions and opportunities in South Africa, the project will cater for the establishment, financing, designing, initial construction and preparation for the operating of four regional technology hubs in the province.

The four locations are uMsunduzi (at the Pietermaritzburg Airport), Newcastle (at the Newcastle Airport), Richards Bay (at the Richards Bay Industrial Development Zone [RBIDZ] Phase 1A site) and Hibiscus Coast (opposite the Shelly Mall, Shelly Beach).

Funding of R120m through the General Budget Support Programme has been secured over the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (2015/16 to 2017/18). The current funding will only support the development of phases 1 at each location, mostly for bulk infrastructure, some top structures to initiate the projects and development facilitation and planning.

Funding applications will continue to be submitted to augment the current funding.

A professional team has been appointed to support the project over the MTEF.

Significant private sector participation is being facilitated for top structure development.

The four "hub hosts" (the three municipalities and the RBIDZ) will own the hubs and will have to put operations and maintenance budgets and plans forward.

Each hub host has put forward an incentive policy for prospective tenants and investors.

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The KwaZulu-Natal provincial MEC for Economic Development Mr Sihle Zikalala, Social Development MEC Ms Weziwe Thusi and Hibiscus Coast municipality mayor Cllr Nomusa Mqwebu, in partnership with the Port Shepstone Techno Hub, will be hosting an Innovation Day on 30 June 2016 to introduce the innovative science and technology park to interested stakeholders, the media and invited members of the community.

As the first of four such Techno Hubs which are being developed in the province, the Port Shepstone Techno Hub will add a welcome new dimension to the area's traditional rural economy by providing a collaborative space for business and young entrepreneurs, thereby stimulating growth and creating opportunities. To achieve this the Port Shepstone Techno Hub has partnered with the provincial government and Hibiscus Coast municipality.

"The provincial government has identified a need for technological innovation and collaboration in KwaZulu-Natal. The four Techno Hubs situated in key areas across the province will promote a knowledge economy, drive socio-economic development and increase competitiveness." 

"It also presents and ideal opportunity to create jobs and attract investment," explained Dr Clive Coetzee, General Manager: Infrastructure Management and Economic Services at KZN Treasury.

The Port Shepstone Techno Hub, which is already in the construction phase, has been identified as an ideal location for a Sports Academy centre of excellence. It is expected that training, research and development in sporting facilities will be housed in the innovation cluster.

The pristine environment that is the KwaZulu-Natal south coast is well known for its many tourist facilities and the Port Shepstone Techno Hub has already attracted an investor who is considering developing a hotel on the site.

There is another investor that will provide opportunities for upskilling people from the area in the hospitality and tourism sector. This will result in the Port Shepstone Techno Hub being recognised as a facility that delivers innovation to an industry that is a significant contributor to the local economy.

"It will focus on attracting local talent, provide training and skills development so that these persons will be well prepared and equipped to establish themselves or become employed in the hospitality industry," added Coetzee.

In addition, the local government plans to establish a base at the Port Shepstone Techno Hub to provide local government services.

"We are extremely excited to host the first Innovation Day at the Port Shepstone Techno Hub on 30 June 2016 and have an interesting line-up of speakers who are passionate about innovation and technology," explained GWI Group Project Director Basil Karstadt.

"We are confident that the Innovation Day will showcase the practical aspects of this unique project in which the private sector, public entities and academia can come together, collaborate and form partnerships in the space of innovation and technology," added Karstadt.