Johannesburg, 7 May 2020 – The inaugural, one-day BRICS Manufacturing Conference, which was scheduled to take place in Johannesburg on 21 May, has been moved to 6 August, Conference organisers said this morning.

The Chairman of the Manufacturing Working Group of the SA Chapter of the BRICS Business Council (BBC), Kaizer Nyatsumba, said the conference is postponed because of the level 4 lockdown currently in place in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Born out of the need to help embattled South African manufacturers to make better use of the country’s existing relations with its BRICS counterparts, the  conference is expected to be attended by captains of industry, policy makers and public sector representatives, amongst many other stakeholders.

Mr Nyatsumba said the conference also aims to assist South African manufacturers to take better advantage of the opportunities presented by BRICS amidst the current economic slump.

“The manufacturing industry’s contribution to the economy has been declining over the past two decades as a result of cheap imports from Asian economies and rising operational and input costs.

“It goes without saying, therefore, that domestic manufacturers should look beyond the South African borders if they are to survive and grow. It is against this backdrop that we decided to host the conference that will seek to investigate how manufacturers can leverage the BBC Manufacturing Working Group (MWG) and discuss, among others, progress on MWG Projects and how they will advance the course of manufacturing in the country,” Mr Nyatsumba said.

Trade and Industry Minister Ebrahim Patel is expected to deliver the Conference’s opening address, while Aspen Pharmacare Group Senior Executive and BBC SA member Stavros Nicolaou, Manufacturing Circe CEO Phillipa Rodseth, National Associastion of Auto Manufacturers of South Africa CEO Michael Mabasa, Industrial Development Corporation CEO and BBC Financial Working Group Chairman TP Nchocho, Department of Trade and Industry Deputy Director-General Ilse Karg and IBM SA Chief Operations Officer Ziaad Suleman will take part in plenary sessions.

Some of the topics that will be discussed at the conference include “South African Manufacturers and the BRICS Business Council: The Manufacturing Working Group – Does It Matter? Progress Report on Priority MWG Projects”, “A Focus on Some of the Planned New Special Economic Zones”, and “How South African Business Can Leverage BRICS Membership Better”.

Mr Nyatsumba encouraged manufacturing industry stakeholders to attend the conference in order to make a contribution towards hammering out the necessary solutions that will reverse the fortunes of the industry and ultimately see it out of the doldrums.