Community business organisation the Ekurhuleni Business Initiative (EBi) has launched a regional engineering forum where all civil, mechanical and electrical engineers will come together once a month to boost local industry.
“It’s time for engineers in South Africa, starting in Ekurhuleni, to work together to enhance economic development and improve the local manufacturing and export markets,” said EBi general manager Chris van Biljon at the launch, which took place in Apex, Benoni, last month.
“Engineers play a major role in the develop- ment of this country, so let’s create a voice of business in South Africa that will resound across the African continent.”
Botha further expressed the organisation’s desire to see proactive business in the region, adding that everything initiated as a result of the newly launched forum would be reported to Ekurhuleni executive mayor Mondli Gungubele, Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane and, ultimately, to President Jacob Zuma.
“Today marks the beginning of a journey that we must all travel together to see what engineers can do to change the face of South Africa,” said guest speaker and Proudly South African CEO Leslie Sedibe, who further emphasised the importance of exports to the country’s economy.
Highlighting the downward curve currently being experienced by the local manufacturing sector, Sedibe pointed out that, while jobs were being lost as result of factories closing, the country continued to import more than what it exported.
“We, as South Africans, are being deprived of our own opportunities, as we import products that could be manufactured here and we are going to pay the price if we don’t deal with these challenges,” he warned.
Further, Sedibe attributed the negative state of the manufacturing sector to the lack of adequate import regulations in South Africa, making importing easy for the relevant stakeholders looking to “make a quick buck”.
“Corruption affects the poorest of the poor and we have a collective responsibility to ensure that we do our very best to transform South Africa,” he said, adding that engineers could do much to eliminate unemployment and make South Africa internationally competitive through innovative thinking.
Forum chairperson and mechanical engineering firm Siyanda Engineering CEO David Slabbert added that the first thing the forum would do is to establish an action plan on how engineering forces in the Ekurhuleni region could work together to achieve the objectives of the new initiative.