Techno hub Newcastle


Newcastle, named after the Duke of Newcastle, the Secretary of State for the Colonies, was laid out in 1864 on the site of the drift over the Ncandu River. It was the key position of Newcastle, midway between the harbour of Port Natal (later to become the port of Durban), and the Zuid Afrikaanse Republic (later to be known as the Transvaal), which  led to the establishment of the Post Halt Two - a transport junction and popular stop over for wagons and post chaises during the 1800s.

Various military campaigns have centred in and around Newcastle, making it today a natural stay over for tourists visiting the world famous Battlefields Route, which boasts the largest concentration of battlefields in South Africa and encompasses much of northern KwaZulu-Natal (KZN). The discovery of large deposits of coal in the area at the turn of the century ushered in a period of prosperity, with Newcastle the centre of this accelerated commercial activity. 

As early as 1905 the town was recognised as an industrial centre, but its potential was thwarted by the onset of the First World War. It was not until after the cessation of hostilities that its development potential was given impetus with the establishment of the Newcastle Iron and Steel Works. Soon after, the first blast furnace to be constructed in South Africa was commissioned in Newcastle.

It was in 1969, with the decision by Iscor (South African Iron and Steel Industrial Corporation Limited) to locate its third steel works in Newcastle, that the international spotlight was focused on the town’s industrial development potential. An ultra modern profile works plant was commissioned and in 1974 produced its first steel, thereby creating a new growth point in north western KZN. Today it is called Arcelor Mittal.

On 26 June 1996, the first democratic local government elections were held in the province, joining the towns of Newcastle, Madadeni and Osizweni into one municipality, bringing together more than 400 000 people, and making Newcastle the second largest municipality in the province.

Prime position

newcastle municipality 200If location is the critical element in an industrial development checklist, then Newcastle, situated midway between Durban and Johannesburg, is perfectly positioned to meet an investor’s every need.

The greater Johannesburg metropolitan region, where 70% of South Africa’s domestic market is concentrated, is less than three hours’ drive away on an excellent road network. 

Durban, which boasts the busiest harbour in Africa, is three hours by road. Newcastle is also linked to the port by rail, facilitated by a modern railway station, an exchange marshalling yard and container depot. 

A modern airport, with tarred runways and night landing systems, facilitates feeder services which put Durban and Johannesburg within easy reach of industrialists operating or residing in Newcastle.

Newcastle is well positioned for accelerated economic development and offers inward investors a focused, structured and rewarding opportunity in South Africa. 

The world’s largest private still manufacturer, Arcelor Mittal, has its second largest South African operation in Newcastle. Apart from the steel factory, there are five chemical factories, and heavy plant and machinery production lines. 

Newcastle has also become the national textile capital and is home to the largest manufacturers of socks and school clothing in South Africa.

A centre of investment

Over the last decade the town’s commercial and industrial sectors have attracted substantial investments. Newcastle now boasts a broad spectrum of industrial and commercial activity that is the envy of larger industrial nodes. Everything from plastic garden furniture to gigantic earth moving equipment is produced here. 

In particular, entrepreneurs from abroad have seen the advantages of basing their activities in Newcastle. By far the single biggest group of investors hails from the Far East. Entrepreneurs from China and Taiwan have established more than 120 manufacturing enterprises representing an investment of over R1 billion.

Apart from their capital, investors have introduced new technology and skills and as their products are exported around the world, the name and reputation of Newcastle goes with them.

Skilled labour is an essential ingredient for any successful industrial zone. Newcastle has a trained workforce of over 100 000 people with skills ranging from heavy engineering to diamond cutting. Skilled labour is also used in the manufacture of kitchen utensils and domestic appliances as well as granite products such as counter tops, tiles and tombstones.

Newcastle has a modern industrial estate offering the investor all services - water, electricity and railway sidings. There is sufficient land to accommodate the needs of any developer. 

A significant factor in an investor’s industrial location assessment is the overall operating cost. In Newcastle, all services are available at the most competitive, market-related prices. Depending on needs, the council will enter into special agreements with industrialist for the supply of bulk services. Global links, such as telecommunication facilities, provide the Newcastle-based industrialist with immediate access to the world. 

Newcastle is blessed with an abundance of water, drawing its main supply from the Ntshingwayo Dam - one of the largest in the province. Various types of coal are mined in the immediate area for local consumption in industry as well as for export.

Modern facilities

The commercial expansion of Newcastle is keeping pace with industrial development, providing investors and residents with the amenities of a modern city but with the ambience and attention to detail of a caring community. 

The central business district, with more than 1 000 shops, restaurants and taverns, a cinema complex, retail plaza and ample parking is making Newcastle a centre of attraction, not only for residents, but for an increasing number of shoppers and day trip visitors from surrounding towns.

Thanks to its strategic locality, Newcastle is developing into the conference centre of the region, offering the business community the most modern facilities.

Newcastle offers its residents unmatched lifelike and recreational facilities in a secure and family orientated environment. For decades, this area of the province, has rolled out the red carpet for the thousands of holiday makers and tourists intent on unwinding in the nearby Drakensberg mountains or exploring the sites on the Battlefields Route

Dominating the Newcastle skyline is Majuba mountain, where the British fell to final defeat at the Battle of Majuba in 1881. Today the Normandien and Balele mountains, which encircle the town, invite visitors to unwind and relax. The mountains are dotted with guest farms, wildlife, scenic hiking routes and horse trails.

The summers are warm and sunny with cool nights, while the winter days are dry and mild with the evenings bracing and invigorating. The average annual rainfall is 920mm.

Newcastle has always offered entrepreneurs an opportunity to spread their wings. Today, more than ever, this perfectly positioned centre of economic activity in north western KZN brings an exciting new dimension to inward investment.

There is abundant water and extremely competitive industrial electricity tariffs and other service charges, a large reserve of stable labour ready to take its rightful place in the regional economy, a well developed transport infrastructure and first world educational, medical and community services, internationally acclaimed tourist attractions, and a lifestyle on the industrial doorstep that is the envy of people everywhere. 


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