Tshwane targets Chinese companies for aerospace investment


Tshwane is trying to attract Chinese investment into the aviation cluster in the city area.

A senior Chinese aviation sector delegation drawn from industry and representatives of a Free Trade Area met with Tshwane officials and local firms during the recent Africa Aerospace and Defence (AAD) show at Air Force Base Waterkloof. The aim of the meeting was to generate ideas for possible SA-Chinese ventures in the aviation sector.

Ideally, Tshwane would like to see the Chinese invest in the city’s economy, but it is also thinking about SA and regional aviation projects. The agency has also approached aerospace companies in Canada, France, Germany, and the UK as part of its investment drive.

Mentioned in a report on the meeting at AAD put out by the Tshwane Economic Development Agency (TEDA) is an idea for Chinese investment in ADEPT, the KwaZulu-Natal light aircraft engine manufacturer. The report also suggests joint initiatives in the area of pilot training, mechanics training, general aviation aircraft production, and UAV design and production. The report says it would be good to see “high political visibility” type projects to generate impetus behind the initiative.

The report also suggests “political lobbying in SA to gain support for the idea to investigate the opportunities for a Chinese investment in SAA.”

Floyd Moloko, Senior Manager for Export Development and Promotion at TEDA, said his agency is keen to learn from the Chinese about collaboration with foreign partners. Airbus and Boeing have final assembly lines in China.

The city envisages Wonderboom developing into an air cargo hub for exports to the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) region. It also says closer collaboration between the US Federal Aviation Administration and the South African Civil Aviation on certifying aircraft could open new light-aircraft manufacturing opportunities in SA.

Among the Chinese delegates at the talks with the TEDA and the local aviation industry were representatives from:
– Xiamen Free Trading Zone – Aviation trading Zone. Xiamen is a port city in the province of Fujian on China’s southeast coast.
– CAS – China Aviation Supplies Holding Company. The Company is owned by the Chinese government and has agreements with Airbus and Boeing on importing aircraft prior to distribution to Chinese airlines.
– Huakai Investment Group Co., Ltd, which has interests in a wide range of aerospace activities.
– TQM Automotive and Feiyue Aviation Tianjin

Through years of investment in the area, TEDA argues that Denel and other defence sector companies have helped develop a cluster of companies for a vibrant aerospace industry. According to the agency, companies located in Tshwane provide 40 percent of the sector’s local content. Aerosud, Denel, SAAB, and Paramount’s AHRLAC facility, and the Centurion Aerospace Village are all within Tshwane city boundaries. TEDA speaks of its “aerospace triangle” between Wonderboom Airport, Centurion Aerospace Village, and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).

Apart from aerospace and defence, TEDA has also identified the automotive business, business process outsourcing, and agricultural products processing as clusters with opportunities for strong growth.