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Invest in KZN: Kuleka

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Empangeni's industrial and commercial node Kuleka provides the flip side to the northern KZN town’s commercial and residential section separated by the national road approach.

Kuleka is
not a mirror image, but the industrial node
where large-scale wholesalers and retailers
jostle beside motor dealerships, hardware
suppliers, liquor outlets, engineering
companies and farming co-operatives

It is the other side of the story to the high street experience, with its modern-day amenities and facilities, but it is not without its own merit for investors.

About 160km from Durban and surrounded by the beauty of KwaZulu-Natal’s rolling hills, the area around Empangeni is known for its sugar cane and cotton plantations, timber and cattle farming. It is easily accessible via the N2 and links to the harbour town of Richards Bay, 15km away via the John Ross Highway.

While it serves the local farmers and the various industries agriculture generates, it has retained its small town charm and warmth. It also offers opportunities for commuting to Richards Bay when the desire is to live close to a larger centre without the hassle that environment creates.

This strip of businesses covers all options – medical facilities and a tombstone company. Picture: Terry Haywood Photography

Kuleka, on the south-eastern border of Empangeni, is a mixed-use node offering retail, office and industrial accommodation. It is about 2km west of the N2, which follows the coastline from Port Shepstone to the Mozambique border.

Last year, while still the economic development, tourism and environmental affairs MEC, Sihle Zikalala, who is now KwaZulu-Natal premier, said the real manufacturing gross value (GVA) added for the province was estimated at R80.8billion, making it the second highest contributor the country’s GVA. He tagged the government’s infrastructure expenditure plan for the province at over R200bn over the next seven years to boost the attractiveness of doing business there.

His comments had followed the Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) Round Table Discussion which highlighted the various investment opportunities in KwaZulu-Natal. Key within that argument was the rapid growth of Richards Bay and the Richards Bay Industrial Development Zone.

Zikalala said there was ongoing pressure to procure locally, particularly within the automotive industry, where there were plans to boost local content from the current 38% and to double production to 1.2 million vehicles.

Many businesses in the area are varied. Picture: Terry Haywood Photography

“There is a huge potential market for local manufacturers and a strategic path for the suppliers of industrial technology to these manufacturers,” he said in a comment as valid for Empangeni and northern KwaZulu-Natal as it is for elsewhere in the province.

He highlighted how KwaZulu-Natal’s manufacturing sector was geared for exports, given its geographic position. The province borders Mozambique and Swaziland, has access to the Indian Ocean via Richards Bay and Durban harbours, has opportunities to harness the Dube TradePort hub for time-sensitive export products, and benefits from more than 30% of the country’s manufactured exports being produced in the region.

There are various properties for sale or rent within Kuleka.

One is a sale incorporating two warehouse buildings. The large property covers 28500m², with the warehouses measuring 1417m² and 509m². The asking price is R10.65million.

Another industrial property promises to be a good entrepreneurial investment as it comprises five mini-factories, measuring 970m², within a gated complex. The asking price is R3.5m.

Within the rental space, an industrial building measuring 4032m² came to the market this year, asking rent of R50000 per month. The property has open yard space and undercover workshops with three-phase electricity.

There are also various industrial properties on the auction market, with investors encouraged to research these options, which include retail shopping centres, facilities near taxi and bus ranks and industrial warehousing.

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