JOHANNESBURG, 22 FEBRUARY 2021 – The inaugural, one-day BRICS Manufacturing Conference, which was initially scheduled to take place last year, will finally take place on 26 March 2021 in Sandton, Johannesburg.

The conference aims to assist South African manufacturers identify opportunities to take advantage of the country’s relations with its BRICS counterparts – Brazil, Russia, India and China. It is expected to be attended by captains of industry, policy makers and public sector representatives, among other stakeholders.

Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa Chief Executive Officer Kaizer Nyatsumba, who is also the Chairman of the Manufacturing Working Group of the SA Chapter of the BRICS Business Council (BBC), said the manufacturing industry’s contribution to the economy has been declining over the past two decades because of cheap imports from Asian economies and rising operational and input costs.

“With our local economy under strain, local manufacturers should consider seeking new markets beyond our borders to survive and grow, and we believe that our BRICS counterparts provide a world of opportunities for those who understand their operating and policy environments. 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 other topics, progress on MWG projects and how they will advance the course of manufacturing in the country,” Mr Nyatsumba said.

Among the industry leaders expected to participate in the plenary sessions are Aspen Pharmacare Group Senior Executive and BBC SA member Stavros Nicolaou, Manufacturing Circle CEO Phillipa Rodseth, National Association of Auto Manufacturers of South Africa CEO Michael Mabasa, Industrial Development Corporation CEO and BBC Financial Working Group Chairman TP Nchocho and Department of Trade and Industry Deputy Director-General Ilse Karg.

The heads of the various special economic zones are also expected to attend to share their insights on how these designated industrial zones will advance the course of manufacturing in the country.

Trade, Industry and Competition Minister Ebrahim Patel is expected to deliver the conference’s opening address.

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 to help find solutions that will reverse the fortunes of the industry and put it on a course towards sustainability.