“It is a matter of record that the metals and engineering industries have underperformed in recent years,” said Mr Motlanthe as he highlighted the need for growth. He relayed SEIFSA CEO Kaizer Nyatsuba’s concern that manufacturing’s share of the economy stood at 20% during the height of apartheid, but currently hovers around 16% at the end of the first two decades of democracy.
The industry is also battling to push back on Chinese cheap steel imports that have hurt various businesses, with leaders calling for higher import tariffs. The metals and engineering sector exports 60% of its products, competing with imports of equal percentage, which adds to the sector’s difficulties for growth.
The net result is that in recent years the sector has been shrinking, with job losses in 2015 alone topping 11000, according to StatsSA figures.
“These numbers, coupled with statistics released in the past year, reveal that the sector is still facing difficulty and decline in production,” said Mr Motlanthe.
He continued: “Our interest should be what concerns us, and animates the interventions that we seek to make. It is this spirit of collaboration that I seek to draw attention to today.”
In his address, Mr Motlanthe also highlighted the importance of the Southern African Metals and Engineering Indaba.
“Whilst only in its second year, this annual event needs to be commended for the foresight in initiating this space for dialogue, entering this terrain with a view to critical thought and reflection, and being committed to mapping out the challenges, successes and obstacles in interrelated industries and sectors,” he said.
The Southern African Metals and Engineering Indaba is an annual event hosted by SEIFSA, in partnership with the Industrial Development Corporation and the Department of Trade and Industry. The next conference is scheduled for 14 and 15 September 2017 at the IDC Conference Centre in Sandton.