Following the recent mission undertaken in April this year by the Economic Cluster Committee of the Executive Council of the Northern Cape provincial government to Dalian in the People’s Republic of China a draft Memorandum of Cooperation was signed between Honglin Investments and the Northern Cape Economic Development Agency (NCEDA). As is the norm, the agreement is still subject to ratification and endorsement by the Executive Council.
That said, the proposed agreement commits both parties to collaborating on the promotion of the Northern Cape Economic Development Corridor project and the commissioning of a feasibility study for the possible development a deep-water harbor on the Namaqualand coast.
Thanks to the efforts of Honglin’s local partner, Promethean Investments, the Corridor project and the port development in particular is now seen by the Chinese as a natural extension of the One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative. This initiative is an ambitious, large-scale, multi-country effort to re-establish the old “Silk Road” trade routes between China and the West. This $4-8 trillion, 65 country effort scheduled for implementation by 2049 is meant to encourage the further integration of the People’s Republic of China with international markets.
While OBOR is focused in the main on overland trade routes, it also has a strong maritime element. Promethean Investments has argued that ongoing and seemingly intractable geo-political instability in the Horn of Africa and Arabian peninsula states makes the shipping route around the Cape an almost necessary focus for OBOR. The old trade route “around the Cape of Good Hope” linking the Eastern and Western Hemispheres still provides an alternative gateway to the West in addition to the links through the Suez Canal. Under this scenario, the case for Chinese investment in maritime infrastructure on the South African coast is strengthened.
As a sign of the sincerity of their commitment to the Memorandum of Cooperation, Honglin Investments is leading an incoming delegation to the Northern Cape commencing with their arrival in Kimberley on 28th May 2018. The delegation is made up of representatives of a number of Chinese state-owned development finance institutions and private investors. In addition to the focus on the Northern Cape Economic Development Corridor Project the visiting delegation will also be introduced to a range of investment opportunities in agriculture, aquaculture, mining and tourism. While in the province the delegation will undertake site visits to the lower-Orange River (Upington), the Namaqualand Coast and Barkly-West where interest has been expressed in the development of a vacation resort complex.
Honglin will also cement its partnership with Promethean Investments by opening a local office in Kimberley. It will be from here that Honglin coordinates all future Chinese interest and involvement in the Economic Development Corridor Initiative. While in the province, the Chinese delegation will also pay a courtesy call on Mr. Mack Jack, M.E.C. for Economic Development and Tourism and other members of the Economic Cluster Committee and the Executive Council.