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Western Cape Premier Helen Zille says the opening of a solar panel manufacturing plant in Cape Town is good for job creation and has the potential to create secondary industries.
The premier said this when Jinko Solar, a New York Stock Exchange-listed Chinese company, officially opened a solar PV module production facility in Epping on Tuesday afternoon.
The premier said the company's decision to open its first factory outside of China in the Western Cape was good news for job creation.
"The reason I am excited is this plant will create 250 direct jobs. Other indirect jobs will be created, as we are not expecting jobs to be created within the plant only, but there will be more work created post production through installations," she said.
Premier Zille also said while the opening of the plant was good news as far as investment in the country was concerned, scarce skills were still a challenge, as South Africa did not have a history as far as the manufacturing of solar panels is concerned.
She said the Western Cape provincial government had forged a partnership with a local technology tertiary institution to send local students to China in a bid to upskill them.
Morgan Peng, the MD of Jinko Solar, said they expect to produce 1 300 solar panels per day at the plant, and added that they expected a R 600 million turnover per year.
He also said that the solar panels, which are mounted onto the roof of a house or property, are expected to help in taking the load off Eskom's power grid.
Peng also said the plant is expected to produce 120 Megawatts by the end of the year.
Trade and Industry Minister Dr Rob Davies has welcomed the opening of the plant, saying this once again showcased South Africa as an attractive investment destination.
Speaking on the side-lines of the US-Africa leadership summit in Washington, the minister also said his department was proud to have supported the investment by Jinko, since 2012, through discussions that included the reduction of red tape, facilitation and support on local content requirements.
The minister said the green economy has been identified as a key focus area in his department's Industrial Policy Action Plan, and provides significant opportunities for job creation, localisation and economic growth.
He also said that within a space of three years, the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producers Programme (REIPPP) model is fast developing into a new industry sector.
Minister Davies also said that US investors such as General Electric and Solar Reserve, as part of President Obama's Power Africa programme, have expressed an interest to further invest and expand the energy sector in South Africa and the African continent.
News date: 05/08/2014