The South African Capital Equipment Export Council (SACEEC) is adopting new technological solutions to meet its goals of growing its membership and exports this year despite the Covid-19 outbreak, says SACEEC chairperson Benny Jiyane.
Amid the pandemic, six new members have joined SACEEC, which represents most South African capital equipment manufacturers that export a significant share of their products.
Jiyane says the council is always willing to assist member companies in exporting and finding new export markets for their products, with its 145 members facing the toughest operating conditions yet.
“There has always been good demand for products from local capital equipment manufacturers. However, even prior to the Covid-19 outbreak, South Africa’s gross domestic product was in a slump and declining, with the country’s growth estimated at about 1% year-on-year.”
SACEEC members are still exporting amid the pandemic, but activity has been severely throttled.
The lockdown has had a huge impact on almost all business sectors locally and abroad, making it difficult to maintain pre-Covid-19 productivity levels, states Jiyane.
“Cross-border deliveries have been delayed or cancelled, as many clients have reduced their outputs, and projects have been put on hold. Local and international travel restrictions have also had a huge impact on business, as this makes it difficult for companies to become approved vendors in new markets and service existing clients.”
Subsequently, the global crisis has highlighted the need to adopt new solutions, as the methods used prior to Covid-19 are no longer viable in the current business environment.
Hence, virtual meeting platforms, such as Zoom, Skype and Microsoft Teams, and other technologies that support remote working, have become core to doing business, states Jiyane, emphasising the need for members to employ these solutions to ensure their continuity beyond the pandemic.
The council has redesigned its website to better portray a business-to-business platform, which will be launched shortly, in addition to SACEEC’s virtual product showroom that was launched in collaboration with Creamer Media on September 4 to promote member company products.
To further assist its members during this precarious time, SACEEC has also hosted more webinars and virtual meetings, while providing them with more information.
“We have conducted virtual webinars over the past month during the DRC Mining Week with mining houses, banks and government officials of the Democratic Republic of Congo. We also held the South Africa-Zambia Investment Week with the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition, the Zambia government and mining houses. The most recent webinar involved the South Africa-Ghana Investment Week last month,” notes Jiyane.
These countries, including Kenya and other Southern African Development Community countries, represent the greatest opportunities for SACEEC members in the mining, water and process industries.
The South African market continues to fail to provide adequate support for local manufacturers.
“As the country’s economy is depressed, the purchase power of local industries is lacking,” states Jiyane.
However, he notes that there is hope that the project houses undertaking local infrastructure projects, which President Cyril Ramaphosa said in June would be at the centre of South Africa’s post-pandemic stimulus efforts, will decide to buy equipment locally from South African manufacturers instead of importing it.