Johannesburg, 20 September 2017 – The Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa (SEIFSA) has thrown its weight behind the Empowered Engineering and Manufacturing Initiative.
SEIFSA has partnered with Smart Procurement World to launch the initiative which is aimed at driving economic transformation and industrial progress in engineering and manufacturing.
Delivering a keynote address at the 11th Smart Procurement World Indaba at the Gallagher Convention Centre in Midrand today, SEIFSA CEO Kaizer Nyatsumba said partnering with Smart Procurement World was logical.
“The purpose of this Initiative is very much consistent with that of our Small Business Hub, which renders expert services to SMMEs at a more discounted fee than normal and offers a service to large companies that sees us project managing their Enterprise and Supplier Development Programmes for them for a fee so that they can improve their Broad-Based BEE scores,” Mr Nyatsumba said.
He said the initiative was in line with the organisation’s vision and philosophy. The Federation, which is 74 years old this year, supports business transformation in general and considers small business as significant players in the South African economy and as job creators, he said.
“Our philosophy is simple: we believe fervently that our beautiful country, South Africa, will not realize its full potential unless all relevant stakeholders – but especially the democratically-elected Government, business and labour – work together cooperatively and collaboratively as partners. We believe very firmly that all of us need to work much, much closely together than we have done hitherto if South Africa is to prosper economically and reclaim its place as the biggest economy on this continent,” Mr Nyatsumba said.
SEIFSA represents all sizes of companies in the metals and engineering sector, ranging from the largest, listed multi-nationals through to the smallest which employ no more than a handful of individuals. The vast majority of the companies that are members of the Federation’s affiliated Associations are small in size: at least 66% of them employ no more than 50 people.
Mr Nyatsumba highlighted the significance of engineering and manufacturing, saying no country lagging behind in either could develop.
“Therefore, it is crucially important that South Africa continues to make strides in engineering and that it performs much better in manufacturing than it is doing at the moment. For that to happen, the Government would have to do much more to create a climate conducive to domestic and foreign direct investment in the country and, thus emboldened, local companies would have to make the necessary investments in cutting-edge technology as well as in research and development,” he added.
Unfortunately, manufacturing in South Africa has been under considerable pressure for many years now. Its contribution to the GDP has declined from around 20% over the past three decades to 13% – and it looks set to continue to decline. He said that was regrettable, given manufacturing’s enormous job creation potential and its positive contribution to the balance of payments as a foreign exchange earner.
“At the Southern African Metals and Engineering Indaba in Sandton last week, Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel catalogued various Government initiatives to support manufacturing in general and the metals and engineering sector in particular. These include such commendable interventions like the Manufacturing Competitiveness Enhancement Programme and designation of locally-manufactured products,” he said.
Mr Nyatsumba said that more needed to be done to ensure that, once locally-manufactured products are designated, effective monitoring of compliance by all Government departments and State-owned companies takes place, “with drastic punitive measures taken against those who fail to comply”.
He said that it was important that the Government does everything possible to end “this terrible practice by some Chinese companies investing in or winning local tenders of bringing not only employees, but also the materials used for those capital projects,” from China.