“The region’s economy is growing and it is urbanizing fast. Someone will supply Africa’s economic hardware, the rail, the ports, the power, the city infrastructure and meet the needs of our states, citizens and businesses. We think South African industry can do this, but everyone who is committed to South Africa’s industrial success needs to work together.

“We need to meet and agree on what to do about electricity, regulations, meaningful transformation, supporting our industries, skills, as well as financing and making the real changes that will turn South Africa into an industrial champion. This is why we are sponsoring the Metals and Engineering Indaba. We are excited about contributing to these conversations, and because we mean to do business,” Mr Mabuza said.

Sphere has a diversified portfolio of successful companies focused on industrial and business servicing the rail, power and manufacturing sectors through its diverse holdings which include Babcock engineering, Babcock Target crane and plant hire, Honeywell automation and control systems, Pandrol rail fastenings and Greif industrial packaging, amongst others.

Organized and hosted by the Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa (SEIFSA), the Indaba brings business, government, labour and civil society together to hammer out a better future for Southern Africa’s metals and engineering sector.

SEIFSA Chief Executive Officer Kaizer Nyatsumba said he was very pleased to see captains of industry come out in full support of the Indaba, a conference that will become a major feature on the calendar of the steel and engineering sector in the Southern African Development Community.

“It is very important that businesses operating in the manufacturing sector come together with policy makers and labour representatives to engage and provide solutions that would help our sector rise out of the current doldrums and prosper,” Mr Nyatsumba said.

Sphere CEO Itumeleng Kgaboesele said: “South African industry needs private sector investment as much as it needs State and State-Owned-Entities (SOEs) support. With the right partnerships between investors and business, and between business, SOEs and the State, we can create an exciting and competitive industrial economy. Since Sphere believes in this future, we are investing in industrial, manufacturing and business services and look forward to meeting more players in these sectors.”

Other sponsors of the Indaba include the Standard Bank, ArcelorMittal, Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa, Metal and Engineering Industries Bargaining Council and merSeta.

The Indaba will bring together business owners, trade unionists and policymakers from across the Southern African Development Community to deliberate on the fortunes of the metals and engineering sector in particular and manufacturing in general. Among its key focus areas will be an update on and concrete plans related to the Government’s ambitious National Development Plan.

The list of Indaba speakers and panelists includes Minister Mildred Oliphant, NUMSA General Secretary Irvin Jim, Business Leadership South Africa Chairman Bobby Godsell, South African Institute of International Affairs Deputy Chairman Moeletsi Mbeki and Pan African Capital Holdings Chief Executive Officer Dr Iraj Abedian.