Msunduzi Municipality: Primed for sustainable economic growth

Making the most of its location, Msunduzi Municipality, encompassing the city of Pietermaritzburg, has plenty to focus on.

Msunduzi02“As much as the Msunduzi brand is connected to the city’s vision, it is also closely associated with the competitive advantages of the region as an investor destination,” states the official website, “and these advantages are considerable.

“Foremost is the city’s location. It is situated just 45 minutes from Durban, the busiest port in Africa, and is astride the country’s busiest development corridor, the N3 highway. It is also the central location for a number of inland towns and settlements in KwaZulu-Natal, and has a strong services sector because of this. Msunduzi’s status as the capital city of the province is another critical advantage, especially for businesses that need to do business with government. Capital city status also allows for many parastatals and government workers in Msunduzi, a further driver of its strong services sector.”

There is an air of positivity around the municipality that springs from the city of Pietermaritzburg and its remarkable history. The city is the Capital City of Kwa-Zulu Natal and has evolved significantly from the quiet, colonial outpost it once was. Today, it is a modern South African city that is home to over 600 000 people of diverse cultures.

In addition to its proximity to Durban and the N3, Pietermaritzburg is also within an hour of the new King Shaka Airport and 90 minutes from OR Tambo International Airport. But it is also close to the central Drakensberg resorts.

In recent years the city has enjoyed dynamic growth and the economy reportedly grew by 30 per cent in the 2003-2004 fiscal year – and continues to develop. Part of that success is based around the city’s focus as an educational centre of excellence, but equally Pietermaritzburg has become accustomed to hosting international events such as the Comrades Marathon, the Duzi Marathon, the Midmar Mile, the Royal & Garden Show, Art & Cars in the Park and International cycling events like the UCI BMX World Championships.

“Here one can walk in the footsteps of Gandhi, Mandela and Paton, and many other truly great South Africans. Situated just 45 minutes from Durban, the busiest port in Africa, and astride the country’s busiest development corridor, the N3 highway connecting Durban to Gauteng, South Africa’s financial hub, this is the Capital City of the Province of KwaZulu Natal, the City of Choice,” the website heralds.

“Pietermaritzburg, the second largest city in KwaZulu Natal, is a colourful, picturesque, modern city located in a broad basin surrounded by a range of thickly forested hills, hence, the tag ‘Sleepy Hollow’. Of course, the city has since shaken off this tag and has woken to an era of unprecedented growth, particularly in the property and retail sectors.

“The declaration of the city as both the administrative and legislative capital of the province has boosted both external and internal investor confidence, resulting in the city’s economy growing at an astounding rate,” the site continues.

Much of the fabric to Msunduzi’s success has been its focus on business. The website reveals once again a truly positive vibe that in turn boosts economic investment:

“The tremendous economic development shown in the city of late is another indicator of its potential opportunities. Economic growth was maintained at a consistent 8 per cent in the earlier years of this decade, and even though this rate has leveraged out somewhat, growth continues at a brisk 5 per cent. Over and above this, the Business Confidence Index for the city for the second quarter of 2006 was an astounding 83. This is a clear sign that businesses are positive and confident about the current and future state of business in Msunduzi.”

The municipality provides a number of incentives for business including rates rebates, power supply discounts and free refuse removal services. Consequently Pietermaritzburg has continued to flourish, as the website describes:

“Pietermaritzburg has a diverse economy with a robust manufacturing sector that is excelling in exports to markets as diverse as aluminium products, cut flowers, automotive components and furniture.

“The city has achieved unprecedented growth in economic activity since 2003, with business confidence very high. The property and retail sectors have grown by at least 30 per cent since 2003. Major recent developments include the Liberty Midlands Mall, the Golden Horse Casino and Hotel, ‘Motor City’ – a zone of all the established motor dealerships and the recently approved Victoria Country Club Golf Estate.

“Add to the positive economic environment the fact that the city has the first fully integrated Chamber of Business in the country, and that the council has a multi-disciplinary Investment Facilitation Team, a ‘one stop shop’ for investors and the result is a city well positioned to do business.”