Localisation should be the main driver of South Africa’s economic recovery following the Covid-19 outbreak, says diversified engineering company Pamodzi Unique Engineering CEO Sindi Dlamini.
The Boksburg-based broad-based black economic-empowerment Level 1 company designs, manufactures and delivers engineering solutions for various industrial, rail, mining and agricultural applications and/or products.
Dlamini is adamant that local companies should be given an opportunity to contribute to the upcoming infrastructure projects, cited by President Cyril Ramaphosa in June during the inaugural Sustainable Infrastructure Development Symposium South Africa to be at the centre of South Africa’s post-pandemic stimulus efforts.
“When partnering with international players, government should ensure that local companies are also considered as suppliers or service providers, even when the requisite skills are not locally available, to ensure skills transfer for use on future projects, as well as facilitate job creation, thereby alleviating unemployment.”
Pamodzi Unique Engineering’s products include rail and off-road pantographs and positive displacement pump ranges.
Although its involvement is limited to the pantograph, an apparatus mounted to the roof of an electric train to access power, “there is much more we can do if we are given the opportunity,” says Dlamini.
The company is on track with its orders for the rail industry but has spare capacity, she adds.
Internationally, the company has supplied off-road pantographs to the US, Panama, Belgium, Zambia, Namibia and recently Russia, but the lockdown slowed economic activity.
However, Dlamini is hopeful that, with South Africa’s moving to Level 2 of the lockdown, activity will start improving.
“It is not where we expected to be, but there is some traction.”
Encouragingly, the lockdown has showcased the ability of local manufacturers to supply imported components at a reduced cost, says Dlamini, who refers to an enquiry received by Pamodzi Unique Engineering to produce an imported component.
“Most people always think components imported from China are bound to be cheaper, but it is not the case. At times, there is just nothing to compare with locally.”
If local companies are given the opportunity to quote on work, they will better international prices while matching or even exceeding quality expectations, Dlamini advances, emphasising that Pamodzi Unique Engineering can take a product from concept to prototype.
“We might not have the expertise initially, but we do have the in-house design capabilities and infrastructure to facilitate machining, welding and assembly.
“If we want to boost the economy, we need to consider aspects beyond price, such as job creation and increased tax collections.”