The South African cement industry, represented by industry organisation, The Concrete Institute (TCI), has welcomed the outcomes of the Sustainable Infrastructure Development Symposium South Africa (Sidssa), held last week.
The symposium was convened by Dr Kgosientso Ramokgopa, head of the Investment and Infrastructure Office in The Presidency.
TCI welcomed the support of President Cyril Ramaphosa and the recognition that infrastructure is of critical importance to South Africa’s economic recovery.
Of importance, Sidssa has prioritised cement-intensive network industries such as energy, water and transport, particularly given their multiplier and job-generative effects, says the TCI.
In addition, the TCI says it is encouraged by Public Works and Infrastructure Minister Patricia De Lille’s comments that, “infrastructure is key to growing and building our country in every sense.”
“While we are highly encouraged by the Sidssa and look forward to partnering with government, the time is now ripe to turn words and policies into actionable and investable projects as identified in the Sidssa’s ‘new infrastructure pipeline’.
"The South African cement sector is absolutely ready, willing and able to meet the infrastructure and build requirements of the Sidssa,” says TCI MD Bryan Perrie.
He notes that South African cement is of the highest certified quality and has been used to build the modern infrastructure of our economy. Schools, hospitals, airports, roads, bridges and major infrastructure projects, such as the Gautrain, have all been built with high-quality certified South African cement. Many key economic sectors ranging from mining to agriculture are dependent on high-quality cement.
“In addition to the high-quality and certified nature of South African cement, local companies are major employers, significant taxpayers, Black Economic Empowerment-complaint and contribute significantly to local economic development,” adds Perrie.
The South African cement sector faces an existential threat, however, from the vast quantities of cheap cement imported and offloaded into our ports every month.
“The TCI members have the capacity to produce all of the country’s cement requirements and, to do so responsibly, sustainably and in a fully compliant manner. But unless these infrastructure projects make use of our certified South African cement of proven quality, rather than cheap imported cement, the sector will remain under threat. The decline of the local cement sector would lead to the loss of tens of thousands of jobs, broad-based black economic empowerment investment and considerable tax payments to the fiscus.
"In other words, the use of South African cement is key to the success of the Sidssa, but is also vital to the broader South African economy,” says Perrie.
“The President and the Ministers of Trade and Industry and Public Enterprises have all affirmed the importance of buying local in order to restart the post-Covid-19 economic recovery in South Africa.
"We now need to put these words into action by ensuring that locally-produced, high-quality, certified and fully-compliant cement is used in this massive infrastructure build programme. A failure to do so would constitute a terminal blow to the South African cement industry and its extensive value chain,” he adds.