The Manufacturing Indaba, which takes place on June 28 and 29 at Emperors Palace, in Ekurhuleni, Gauteng, has shown consistent growth over the past three years in terms of attendance and scope, despite tough economic conditions, says Manufacturing Indaba MD Liz Hart.
Even with companies scaling back, the events management expects increased attendance and is encouraged by the number of delegates that have registered, she notes.
Hart says this demonstrates that companies and businesses are not retreating amid a difficult economic environment, but are considering diversification and new avenues for growth: “The Manufacturing Indaba is about bold new growth plans and partnerships, and bringing new opportunities and innovation to the market. “
Increased interest and attendance also demonstrate the need for knowledge, as well as the appetite for new avenues for expansion within the manufacturing sector, she adds. The event should host about 60 exhibitors, and between 1 500 and 2 000 visitors.
Hart comments that South Africa has developed an established, diversified manufacturing base that has previously shown its resilience and potential to compete in the global economy. The sector is vital to the country’s socioeconomic growth, as it presents opportunities to combat youth unemployment and boost job creation by focusing on manufacturing operations and exporting South African products to the African and global market, she notes.
Hart emphasises that the event will enable delegates to learn how they can improve their manufacturing operations, receive information about the latest manufacturing incentives, meet future business partners, find reliable suppliers and explore opportunities beyond South Africa’s borders and regional African trade.
The event’s complementary Business Matchmaking platform also offers delegates and exhibitors the opportunity to request private meetings with people who have the required expertise in exhibitors’ fields of choice, as “it connects the dots and brings the right contacts to the delegates”.
She notes that every year, the Indaba receives high praise for this platform, adding that it was introduced because of the belief that the event should provide real value-added services for attendees, as well as actively enable and facilitate deals and partnerships.
The inaugural Small Business Indaba, a separate but colocated side event, is also expected to be instrumental. Hart says that the Manufacturing Indaba, in partnership with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), has identified small business as a key focus area for the 2016 event, owing to the urgent need for reindustrialisation in South Africa.
She explains that “the survival rate of small, medium-sized and microenterprises (SMMEs) is relatively low, with less than half of the newly established businesses surviving longer than five years.” Hart says this is true for not only South Africa but also the rest of the world.
Therefore, the Small Business Indaba will be introduced to assist South Africa’s SMMEs, specifically those in strategic manufacturing industries, and provide information and access to government support programmes that can help them to establish themselves.
The Manufacturing Indaba is one of the only events that partners the DTI, the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and the Department of Public Enterprises (DPE).
Hart notes that the level of government involvement is prompted by the need for growth, industrialisation and job creation, which are critical to any growing economy. “Government stakeholders are keen to support and direct the content for the indaba to ensure that discussions add value to this critical business arena . . .”
A further demonstration of this is the recurring attendance of Trade and Industry Minister Dr Rob Davies and Deputy Minister Mzwandile Masina. Hart notes that the Minister will host a joint press conference with industry association the Manufacturing Circle after the keynote addresses on June 28, while Masina will provide a progress update on the Black Industrialist Programme on June 29.
The steering committee members are representatives from the DTI, the DST, the DPE Manufacturing Circle, efficiency promotion programme National Cleaner Production Centre and the City of Ekurhuleni. Hart notes that the expert representatives “are at the cutting edge of manufacturing innovation and entrepreneurship, ensuring that event topics and themes represent the work and thinking of the region’s most active manufacturing stakeholders”.
She reiterates that the event aims to help existing and new manufacturers, as well as enable companies to expand and sell their products and services in the African market. “Great successes have been recorded with past exhibitors and participants, and we wish to continue this trajectory of helping businesses learn more, network and ultimately expand,” Hart concludes.