Durban Automotive Cluster

About the client

The eThekwini Municipality is home to the city of Durban, which has a large and diversified economy with substantial manufacturing, tourism, transportation, finance and government sectors. Durban has a population of 3.5 million people and is the second most important economic complex in South Africa.


90% of automotive manufacturing activity in the target geographic area represented

Executive summary

A Public-Private Partnership between the regional automotive industry in KwaZulu-Natal and the eThekwini Municipality supports the development and growth of the province’s automotive industry.


The industry is a sizeable one. It is home to Toyota South Africa Motors, the largest OEM in South Africa, as well as approximately 70 Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3 suppliers, some of which also compete in export markets and the aftermarket.

The eThekwini Municipality recognised that the automotive manufacturing industry was an important employment generator in the local economy but was unclear on what the key blockages and enablers to growth were, or how they should be addressed once identified.

How the cluster helped

The cluster approach to providing industry development support went further than providing the public sector funder with an understanding of blockages and enablers to growth in that it created a common understanding between the public and private sector of what needed to be done and how it should be undertaken.

Collaboration is central to clustering and the facilitative approach advocated by B&M Analysts enabled collaboration between a diverse set of companies in support of developmental outcomes, even when certain of the companies were competing directly in the marketplace.

Project execution requires funding and the cluster was fairly quickly able to transition to a multi-funder model based on collaboration with a wide range of organisations with common interests. Funding has consistently been leveraged from the private sector, other public sector organisations, and foreign donor agencies.

Industry has retained a high level of ownership of the cluster since inception and (together with inputs from the funder) has provided critical assessments of the cluster’s direction and the value of individual initiatives so as to enable effective outcomes.

Results and future plans

The cluster has 41 participants representing over 90% of all automotive manufacturing activity in its target geographic area demonstrating that the facilitative approach continues to add high levels of value to the cluster’s stakeholders 14 years after the cluster was established.

Strategic priorities are reviewed and associated activity plans realigned on a 3-yearly basis, allowing the cluster to pursue more ambitious projects with each new cycle. Around 25-30% of activities are currently funded by the eThekwini Municipality.