Spatial Development Initiative

The Spatial Development Initiative (SDI) methodology was developed in South Africa in 1996 as an integrated planning tool aimed at promoting investment in regions of the country that were underdeveloped but had potential for growth. The methodology involves a process in which the public sector develops or facilitates conditions conducive to private sector investment and Public-Private-Community Partnerships.

SDI's are modelled on the highly successful Maputo Development Corridor which restored the historic trade and transport route between landlocked Gauteng and Mpumalanga provinces in South Africa and the Port of Maputo in Mozambique. The initial upgrading of infrastructure and crowding-in of investment has led to further public and private sector investments and a deepening of the sub-regional economic base to support local economic development.

A strong local, regional and international investment profile continue to respond to the improving logistics and policy environment created by the participating governments. To date, the private sector has committed an estimated figure of well beyond R35 billion worth of investments in southern Mozambique and Mpumalanga.

The South African experience, along with the implications for the region of the globalisation of the world economy, has led to the establishment of an SDI support programme driven by regional economic development and integration imperatives, under the leadership of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

The SDI methodology is acclaimed in SADC and COMESA as a simple and effective process to unlock the rich resource base of the region by facilitating investment-led growth and, in the longer term, contributing to the the establishment of integrated development and manufacturing platforms.

South African support is gaining technical capacity through strategic alliances with other agencies and programmes. the programme has the potential to play an important role in promoting South Africa's foreign policy objectives in Africa.



Key principles:

  • The South African SDI successes were due to the commitment and persistence of lead politicians, government officials and development specialists, the tight focus of the work programmes on investment facilitation and the international timing of events.
  • The SDI process is essentially a methodology, rather than a policy or place as it is often wrongly perceived to be. It can be applied to facilitate investment-led growth and development in ANY locality with:
    • Sufficient under-utilised potential to warrant the outlay of human and financial resources required; and
    • The socio-economic cohesion and and political will to facilitate inter- and intra-government collaboration to achieve SDI objectives.
  • SDI's leverage public and private sector investment as the basis for economic development and facilitate regional government's objectives of achieving international competitiveness, amore diversified ownership base in the economy and regional co-operation and economic integration in the African sub-continent.


Key Strategies:

A SDI work programme offers short, sharp catalytic interventions to facilitate investment-led growth in project areas designed by participating governments.

Investors are invited to develop business opportunities that have been identified in locations with the resources to support modern industries and in which focussed planning and rapid implementation creates an investor-friendly environment.

With the present setback in flows of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and much grater competition for investment, it is essential that negative perceptions about the region are dealt with by addressing some of the issues hindering investment and by promoting geographical advantages. These range from foreign ownership (especially of land) to restrictions on hiring skilled expatriates, restrictive labour laws, trade barriers, productivity levels, quality standards, incentive regimes, taxation policies and either a lack of, or poor, infrastructure.

In parallel exercise, SDI's identify strategic investment and other ancillary opportunities, and "package" them for private sector investors.

At the end of each SDI work programme, SDI projects are integrated into the responsible governmental line departments and agencies for implementation or follow-through.

Significant numbers of jobs and opportunities for SMME's are usually created only in the second and third generation of projects - the up- and downstream enterprises that develop as manufacturing platforms are established. To ensure delivery, participating governments therefore need to guarantee continuity of the industrialisation process.

Various SDI's have been initiated at regional level. They are:

  • The MDC (SA, Swaziland and Mozambique)
  • Limpopo Valley SDI (SA and Mozambique)
  • Beira Development Corridor (SA, Mozambique and Zimbabwe)
  • Zambezi Valley SDI (SA and Mozambique)
  • Nacala Development Corridor (SA, Mozambique, Malawi and Zambia)
  • Walvis Bay Development Corridor (SA and Namibia)
  • Gariep SDI (SA's Northern Cape Province and Namibia)
  • Mtwara Development Corridor (SA, Tanzania, Mozambique and Malawi)
  • Central Development Corridor (SA, Tanzania and Rwanda)
  • Lebombo Investment Initiative (SA, Swaziland and Mozambique)

SDI's are not limited to inter-state boundaries. Locally, several initiatives have arisen, e.g.:

  • West Coast Investment Initiative
  • Fish River SDI
  • Wild Coast SDI
  • Pietermaritzburg / Msunduzi SDI
  • Durban SDI
  • Richard's Bay - Empangeni SDI
  • Phalaborwa SDI
  • Highveld Initiative

Platinum SDI - which links the MDC and the Walvis Bay Corridor to form the Trans-Kalahari Corridor, also known as the Coast2Coast Corridor, creating a seamless link on the sub-continent between the Indian and South Atlantic Oceans.