The sixth Southern African Metals and Engineering Indaba, organised by industry body the Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa (Seifsa), will be held on May 24 and 25 and will seek to find solutions to the challenges facing South Africa's manufacturing sector.
The indaba's theme is “Surviving Tough Times and Growing the Economy” and takes place at a time when the country's manufacturing industry, and the metals and engineering subsector in particular, is struggling to survive following years of rising energy costs, unreliable power supply, transport challenges, increased competition owing to cheap imports and reduced demand for its products.
“It has long been recognised that our economic growth depends on the existence of a thriving manufacturing sector. However, over the years, we have seen the sector shed rather than create much-needed jobs. It is now up to us, as stakeholders from both the public and private sectors, to collectively find ways to arrest its decline,” says Seifsa CEO Kaizer Nyatsumba.
With South Africa’s economy struggling amid the Covid-19 pandemic, it is now more urgent than ever for all stakeholders to find solutions to rescue the sector so that it can, in turn, help drive economic recovery.
Topics that will be discussed at the indaba include South Africa’s readiness to embrace the Fourth Industrial Revolution in manufacturing, the formation of a scrap metal exchange to benefit local manufacturers, the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and the opportunities it brings for South African businesses, an update on the Steel Master Plan and striking a balance between growth and environmental sustainability.
Confirmed speakers include Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan, State-owned Transnet CEO Portia Derby, State-owned power utility Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter, energy analyst Ted Blom, political party Movement for One South Africa leader Mmusi Maimane and AfCFTA secretary-general Wamkele Mene.
The manufacturing sector contributes only 12% to South Africa's gross domestic product, significantly down from the estimated 25% it contributed in the 1990s.
The indaba will shine the spotlight on matters affecting manufacturing in the country and will bring together businesses, labour, civil society and government on a single platform to find solutions to challenges plaguing the manufacturing sector in South Africa.