We have a very well defined strategic plan and long term master plan: Hamish Erskine, Dube Tradeport

We have a very well defined strategic plan and long term master plan: Hamish Erskine, Dube Tradeport

After 19 months of serving as the acting CEO at Dube Tradeport Corporation (DTPC), the board of the Durban-based company finally christened Hamish Erskine as its new chief executive officer. The appointment was confirmed after the support from the KwaZulu-Natal provincial cabinet.

With over 13 years’ experience in an executive role at DTPC, Erskine successfully created two of the company’s commercial divisions, Dube iConnect and its property investment portfolio. In his new role as the DTPC CEO, Erskine is responsible for leading the organisation as it grows its investment assets throughout its development zones under the umbrella of both the special economic zones and commercial business zones.

In an exclusive interview with Surya Kannoth, Erskine talks about his strategy for growth, the recent R1.3 billion investment of CiplaBiotec and more….

Congratulations on your new role. What are the immediate plans on your agenda now as the new CEO of Dube TradePort? Many thanks. Dube TradePort Corporation has a very well defined strategic plan and long term master plan. My intention is to ensure that the organization remains focused and fully resourced to ensure that we continue to implement all aspects of our strategy. A key part of this strategy is to broaden the accessibility and reach of the organisation’s economic development opportunities by engaging with local communities and entrepreneurs. We have also partnered with companies that are participating in the Black Industrialists Programme and are looking to expand this participation significantly.

Having been the acting CEO since February 2015, Dube TradePort has excelled in its performance in the last 19 months. How do you plan to hone the performance further? Attracting investment into Special Economic Zones is a highly competitive environment globally. Investors increasingly expect high standards of infrastructure, services and operations. As a relatively new company, we are continually adapting to these demands and my immediate focus is to ensure that we are fully meeting the expectations of our existing tenants and investors, and understanding where improvements can be made.

What are the immediate challenges which you will have to deal with in this role? Dube TradePort has several new major investments and infrastructure projects underway or in the immediate pipeline. The immediate priority is to ensure that these are delivered to plan and cost effectively to ensure that their maximum benefit is achieved. These include the CiplaBiotec Plant, TradeZone Phase 2, and the basement parking in Dube City which has already unlocked over R360 million of private sector investment with more to follow soon. With the 50-year master plan to develop Durban as a major logistics gateway, what initiatives has Dube TradePort taken on its part? Dube TradePort has an exceptional location advantage of being linked to the countries’ two largest seaports by the N2/N3 road network whilst being home to an international airport. We therefore continually plan and implement infrastructure which enhances connectivity to this network for our users. A most recent example of this is the opening of the International Trade Avenue to the north of the site. We are also focusing on bringing freight rail intermodal capacity to the site. Over and above this a major ongoing priority is to ensure greater air connectivity from KSIA both for passengers and cargo.

What is the update on the private investments that you have been seeking for Dube Trade Zone? TradeZone 1 and Dube City have already attracted over R1.3 billion of private sector investment so far. We have further confirmed an additional R1.3 billion for the Cipla investment in TradeZone Phase 1 b, and are in advanced discussions with several investors in the pharmaceuticals, healthcare, electronics, and clothing and textile sectors for the remainder of TradeZone 2. We are moving quickly to begin the earthworks on this phase to begin openingupsites for investors by the end of 2017. Within Dube City we have site reservations in place for two very exciting projects which we expect to announce in the new year.

How do you see this significant investment of CiplaBiotecbenefit Dube Trade Port? The investment by CiplaBiotec is for the manufacture of biosimilars for the treatment of cancer. This is globally leading edge technology and brings an entirely new manufacturing sector into South Africa, one of only a few of such locations across the world. This will have an impact on research, tertiary institutions as well as the job market. We are also using the opportunity to leverage off the infrastructure we are building to support other pharmaceuticals investments and develop a pharmaceuticals cluster in the SEZ.

How do you see this investment help increase trade between South Africa and the rest of the world? Yes, most definitely. CiplaBiotec intends supplying both the African and the international market from the facility at Dube TradePort.

Are you looking at improving/increasing flight connections throughout the continent to facilitate a seamless pharma supply chain? Dube TradePort’s route development strategy is focused on two key areas of impact (1) international and (2) regional connectivity. The intention is to create as wide as possible network of routes into Africa from King Shaka International Airport (DUR) whilst at the same time increasing access to key international hubs. The objective is for these to combine to provide ever improving supply chain options for both the regional and international market.

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