CBI Electric African Cables, a subsidiary of JSE-listed Reunert Group, officially launched a R150-million high-voltage cable factory in Vereeniging, Gauteng province on Tuesday.


The facility, partly funded by the government, will be the first in sub-Saharan Africa to design and manufacture high-voltage cables of up to 275 kilovolts (kV) with conductor sizes of up to 2?500 square millimetres, CBI Electric managing director Alan Dickson said at the launch.


“South Africa’s growing electricity demand as well as the high copper price necessitated an investment by the company, supported by the [government], to build a world-class production facility,” Dickson said.


The factory’s cables will enable large energy consumers such as municipalities to distribute up to 350 megavolt amperes (MVA) at 132 kV and 547 MVA at 275 kV on a single cable circuit.


In June 2014, Dickson said, CBI Electric would be installing Cape Town’s first locally produced, 132kV, 1?600 square millimetre underground cable system.


Also speaking at Tuesday’s launch, Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies said CBI Electric African Cables had received R45-million from the DTI’s Manufacturing Competitiveness Enhancement Programme.


While helping companies to become competitive, Davies said the government had stepped up its efforts to ensure that sub-standard products did not compete unfairly in the industry.


“We’re not doing this to protect unsustainable businesses against competition, but rather to promote their competitiveness and boost manufacturing,” Davies said, adding that the DTI’s inclusion of electric cables in the list of products that the state was required to procure locally had enabled companies like CBI to grow.


According to Dickson, the new factory will create 27 permanent jobs, while all related research and development, as well as engineering, process, manufacturing and associated skills, will be developed and retained in South Africa.