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Eastern Cape

The Eastern Cape, lying on the south-eastern South African coast, is a region of great natural beauty, particularly the rugged cliffs, rough seas and dense green bush of the stretch known as the Wild Coast. At 169 580 km2, the Eastern Cape is roughly the size of Uruguay. It is the countrys second-largest province after the Northern Cape, taking up 13,9% of South Africas land area.

The region boasts 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. The province is serviced by airports in Port Elizabeth, East London, Mthatha and Bhisho. In the Eastern Cape, various floral habitats meet. Along the coast, the northern tropical forests intermingle with the more temperate woods of the south.

The province is home to a number of higher education institutions, including the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, the University of Fort Hare and the Walter Sisulu University of Technology.

The people

The Eastern Cape has a population of more than 6,8 million people, the majority of whom speak isiXhosa, followed by Afrikaans and English.

Agriculture, fishing and forestry

Agriculture is important in the Eastern Cape. 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. People in the former Transkei region are dependent on cattle, maize and sorghum farming. 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.

There is excellent potential for forestry the coastal areas receive good summer rainfall and have a moderate climate, becoming more subtropical to the north-west. The Tsitsikamma National Park on the southern border is home to dense indigenous forests.

The basis of the provinces fishing industry is squid, some recreational and commercial fishing for line fish, the collection of marine resources, and access to line-catches of hake.


With two harbors and four airports offering direct flights to the main centres and an excellent road and rail infrastructure, the province has been earmarked as a key area for growth and economic development.

The Provincial Industrial Development Strategy identified the sectors that can create jobs and diversify the economy. These are aligned with the sectors that are being prioritised by government and include the following:

  • automotive and components sector, in which the province has had significant new investments in recent years
  • renewables and the green industries
  • agriculture and agroprocessing
  • forestry and timber processing
  • pharmaceuticals
  • plastics and petrochemicals
  • capital goods
  • tourism.
The East London Industrial Development Zone (IDZ) has attracted new investments, which will provide approximately 600 direct and more than 1 000 indirect jobs. The Coega IDZ has also secured, among other things, the Cape Concentrates Tomato Paste Project, which will create 180 direct jobs and 3 000 jobs on farms.

New investments have also been made in the auto and components sector. Daimler AG has awarded sole rights to Daimler Benz to produce the new C-Class model, the W205. The investment of R2 billion will result in the creation of 2 000 jobs during the training and preparation phase.

During 2011, government and state-owned enterprises supported key strategic projects in the province, which included the Umthombo PetroSA Project in the Coega IDZ, Emalahleni Coal in Lady Frere, Langa Solar PV Park in Berlin, East London, and the Gehrlicher-Ikhwezi Pilot PV Park in the East London IDZ.

Unemployment started to decrease from 30% in 2009 to 27,2% at the end of 2010. Critical interventions that enabled this decrease include the Expanded Public Works Programme through which 72 339 job opportunities were created by 2011, far above the target of 68 591 jobs. Of these, 28 089 jobs benefited young people, while 28 336 women and 424 people with disabilities benefited.

This was a total of over 180 000 jobs between 2009 and 2010 against the target of 132 786, with the infrastructure and non-state being the top two performing sectors.

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Page last modified: 23-10-2012 19:13:00 ZULU