Situated on the east coast of KwaZulu-Natal, the iLembe District is set to become a major economic hub in the province. The N2 national highway running from Durban up through Richards Bay to Swaziland and Mozambique dissects the district.
Three distinct development zones exist: the coastal strip with its residential and tourism components; the inland corridor, which is influenced by the existence of major commercial agricultural activities, and the rural hinterland.
The newly developed King Shaka International Airport and Dube TradePort is pivotal to the district's future success. The development has created immense opportunities for growth and stimulation of economic initiatives. Spinoffs include:
High value manufacturing
Business and logistics parks
Research and technology parks
Warehousing and distribution centres
Entertainment and shopping
Hotels and residential development
There is a strong positive sentiment from the business sector for new direct investment into the region, creating pressure to deliver on serviced commercial sites for occupation, as well as on the upgrade of existing infrastructure to accommodate the new demands.
This is an exciting time for the region as a whole, with the Provincial Growth and Development Strategy for the Province of KwaZulu-Natal, as approved by Cabinet in the last quarter of 2011, clearly indicating that the northern corridor will become the focus of economic growth over the next 20 years and beyond. This bodes extremely well for the district, which will again experience unprecedented growth once the worldwide economy shows growth once again.
The diverse culture of this region has been shaped by people from three continents; Africa, India, and Europe, offering a unique vibrancy to the municipality. The main drivers of the economy are the agriculture, tourism, manufacturing and services sectors.
The excellent climate with lots of sunshine and plentiful rain allows for a variety of year round agricultural activities.
Sugar Cane farming has been the dominant agricultural business, supporting agricultural activities include forestry, fruit and vegetable farming, tunnel farming, and fresh cut flowers. The piloting of the National Schools Nutrition Programme with the Department of Education will see a signficent increase in agricultural activity targeting local co-operatives and small scale farmers not just in iLembe but across KZN.
The manufacturing sector comprises of heavy industries such as sugar and paper mills. The Compensation/Ballito area north of the new King Shaka International Airport has been identified as a special economic opportunity zone and aerotropolis Several light industry parks such as Imbonini offers high quality mini factories and stand alone factory ware- house developments for lease or purchase.
Isithebe Industrial Estate continues to be an effective manufacturing hub, offering cost-effective production space to prospective investors. iLembe is at the heart of South Africa's logistics platform. The submarine telecoms cable systems connecting South Africa to the rest of Africa has two landing points - Mtunzini in iLembe and the Western Cape. The connections to the submarine cables foster a sustainable call centre industry and the development of ICT hubs. To this end a pilot broadband project was implemented in 2011.
The tourism sector is consistently growing and offers cultural, heritage, beach and nature based tourism. The re- conceptualistion of the King Shaka Tourism Route seeks to offer new tourism entrepreneurial opportunities as well as identify infrastructure requirements.
Developments such as the Palm Lakes, Fairmont Zimbali and Simbithi Estates show the potential in the region for high-end residential accommodation and entertainment. The IFA Hotels & Resorts offers the ultimate in luxury accommodation. With several newly developed Hotels, inviting the business, trade and conference meetings market opportunities to experience the North Coast lifestyle.
The commerce and services sector are found in all the main urban centres throughout the district especially in KwaDukuza and Ballito.
Wholesale / retail trade
Transport / storage
Financial / insurance
Business / community / social / personal services
Enterprise iLembe is the economic development agency for the iLembe District Municipality responsible for Trade & Investment Promotions and Local Economic Development in the District.
The key sectors focused on are: Agriculture, Manufacturing, Tourism and Services.
The vision of Enterprise iLembe is to make the iLembe District the Destination of choice for Investment and Business.
The philosophy that drives Enterprise iLembe is built on global best practice principles in Local Economic Development. "Local Economic Development is a participatory process where local people from all sectors work together to stimulate local commercial activity, resulting in a resilient and sustainable economy. It is a tool to help create decent jobs and improve the quality of life for everyone, including the poor and marginalized."
Public and private partners are invited to participate in the development of iLembe.
Municipal Demarcation Board Code: DC29
Location of Head Office: KwaDukuza
Municipal Area (km2): 3 259.66 km2
Population (estimated): ± 614 000
Local Municipalities: Mandeni; KwaDukuza; Maphumulo; and Ndwedwe