IDC hints on investing in Eastern Cape sorghum production

DECEMBER 19, 2014

The Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) is reportedly planning to assemble an innovation team to identify and support new industries – especially in South Africa’s new renewable energy sector.  The plans include possible investments in the Eastern Cape’s sorghum industry as the country looks to producing biofuels from ethanol in the coming years.

IDC Chief Executive Geoffrey Qhena said while the IDC "will be keen to fund future rounds" of renewable energy projects, it would be likely to target smaller projects with opportunities for transformation.

Qhena said the IDC’s increased agroprocessing focus could include a bio-ethanol project in Cradock, where the IDC believed it was "close to finalising a partner".

It had initially sought to produce ethanol from sugar cane, but decided "we don’t want to compete with food", as this would inflate prices.

Steel project

Among the IDC’s planned investments is a steel project in partnership with China’s state-owned Hebei Iron and Steel Group. The project would stimulate competition in the domestic steel market and allow for the beneficiation of locally sourced minerals such as magnetite.

It would look to supply steel into the rest of Africa, as countries invested more in infrastructure, Qhena said.

During a prefeasibility study, the partners would identify a site for the plant, which could be at the coast or inland in areas such as Phalaborwa and Middelburg.