To address the effects of the lack of infrastructure projects in South Africa, cement manufacturer Pretoria Portland Cement (PPC) MD Njombo Lekula has called for industry and government to work together to mitigate the knock-on effects on the cement sector.
“We urgently need an agile and pro-growth policy and regulatory regime that recognise that the construction value chain depends on natural resource inputs, namely limestone and ash.”
Lekula says a strong commitment from government to work with the industry is needed, and although engagement with government has been limited thus far, the discussions have been fruitful and promising.
To this end, he enthuses that PPC is ready to do its part towards growing the country’s economy.
Lekula says with a cement capacity of seven-million tons, PPC’s Southern Africa business has the widest production and distribution network to serve key markets in the region.
PPC has spent more than R4.5-billion in modernisation capital expenditure in the past decade to introduce new technologies and improve plant efficiencies to better serve the market and support small, medium-sized and microenterprises (SMMEs).
“Those investments can bear fruit only if the appropriate policies are in place and enforced, which will ensure the growth and sustainability of the industry, and jobs.”
Lekula tells Engineering News that one of the best options to develop the cement sector is the implementation of a national construction masterplan.
“The masterplan will be a multi-sectoral exercise and commit to support and protect the industry, as well as unlock additional investments in production by bringing additional plants or increasing existing plant capacity,” he explains.
Further concepts of the masterplan can include funding the research and development of new and alternative building technologies, increasing SMME support and undertaking skills development programmes.
He adds that, as important, would be the sector entering into new strategic and revenue generating partnerships with State-owned enterprises such as Eskom and Transnet.
He points out that the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition has developed a working template to facilitate the formulation of industry masterplans.
“As we have witnessed with the automotive and poultry industries, a masterplan along with putting in place monitoring and evaluation mechanisms to ensure implementation, have been greatly beneficial.”
He concludes that all signatories to the masterplan will be responsible for the delivery of agreed-upon commitments.