The Eastern Cape, at 169 966 km2, is roughly the size of Uruguay. It is South Africa’s secondlargest province after the Northern Cape, taking up 13,9% of the total land area.
The province has a population of more than 6,5 million people, the majority of whom speak isiXhosa, followed by Afrikaans and English.
It is a region of great natural beauty, particularly the rugged cliffs, rough seas and dense green bush of the Wild Coast.
The region has remarkable natural diversity, ranging from the dry, desolate Great Karoo to the lush forests of the Wild Coast and the Keiskamma Valley; the fertile Langkloof Valley,
renowned for its rich apple harvests; and the mountainous southern Drakensberg region at Elliot.
Various fl oral habitats meet in the province, ranging from tropical forests in the north to the more temperate woods of the south.
The province is home to a number of higher education institutions, including Rhodes University, the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, the University of Fort Hare and the
Walter Sisulu University of Technology. It has airports in Bhisho, East London, Mthatha and Port Elizabeth and has two major harbours in East London and Port Elizabeth respectively.
Agriculture, fisheries and forestry
The fertile Langkloof Valley in the south-west has enormous deciduous fruit orchards, while sheep farming predominates in the Karoo. The Alexandria-Grahamstown area produces pineapples, chicory and dairy products, while coffee and tea are cultivated at Magwa. An olive nursery has been developed in collaboration with the University of Fort Hare to form a nucleus of olive production in the Eastern Cape. The coastal areas receive good summer rainfall and have a moderate climate, becoming more subtropical to the north-west, which makes it particularly suitable for forestry. The basis of the province’s fi shing industry is squid, some recreational and commercial fishing for line fish, the collection of marine resources, and access to line-catches of hake.
Over the last three years the Imvaba Fund has supported 49 cooperatives with a disbursement of R31 million. Most of these cooperatives are in the agricultural and manufacturing sectors. Working with the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform, the province uses the feedstock market to develop commercial black farmers. To this end, 25 farms in the Fish
River Valley were bought for land redistribution in 2012/13. The trading posts initiative will link rural producers with agro-processing facilities, with targeted sites being Ncora and Mqanduli. This project has been allocated R73 million from the Jobs Fund, with matched government funding of R18 million. The Community Forest Development initiative attracted R113 million from the Jobs Fund, and R30 million in provincial government funding. These initiatives supported 134 farmers and created more than 1 000 direct jobs in 2013.
The Eastern Cape Provincial Planning Commission, established in April 2012, is on course to extrapolate the provincial implications of the National Development Plan (NDP).
The Coega Industrial Development Zone (IDZ) has operational investors on site with private investment of more than R1,2 billion. In addition, secured private investments of R5,4 billion
were implemented, with investments of more than R8 billion in the project pipeline. The East London IDZ secured R2,2 billion in investments, with a project pipeline of R12,7 billion.
The automotive sector remains an important sector of the provincial economy. By March 2014, the Nelson Mandela Bay Logistics Park had secured component supplier private investments
of R647 million, and the East London IDZ was at an advanced stage of establishing the Metals Surface Treatment Plant. The investment of R600 million by the Chinese Original Equipment
Manufacturers was on track, with factory construction underway in Coega.
The province continues to prioritise the green economy in sectors such as solar, wind, biofuel and biomass. Of the 18 wind energy projects awarded as Independent Power Producers by the
Department of Energy, 11 are from the Eastern Cape with a total investment value of R18 billion. A R1,1-billion biofuel factory investment in Cradock is envisaged. In 2013, the province launched the Provincial Industrial Jobs Stimulus Programme, including a R50-million fund, which is administered in partnership with organised business and labour.