Chamber Square, Lion Match Office Park, 892 Umgeni Road, Durban

DCCI and SEIFSA KZN hosted wildly successful manufacturing roundtable

In late October, the DCCI, in collaboration with SEIFSA KZN, hosted a meeting of their manufacturing members, at the DCCI’s offices. The event was met with much enthusiasm, as over 60 manufacturers attended to voice their views on the state of their industry. A panel of topic experts was constituted, to provide members with an overall view of the trends in the sector.

Ajiv Maharaj of eThekwini’s Economic Development Unit began proceedings with a presentation outlining the contribution of manufacturing and its various sub-sectors to eThekwini’s local economy. He highlighted that the textile, metals, transport and petroleum manufacturing sub-sectors are the largest contributors to eThekwini’s economy. He added that the City has established several interventions to assist local manufacturers, including the Durban Automotive Cluster; the Durban Chemical Cluster; the eThekwini Maritime Cluster; Use-It (a waste materials industry development intervention); the Durban Clothing and Textiles Cluster, and the KZN Tooling Initiative. He closed by mentioning that there are two local government strategies which are relevant for manufacturers, the eThekwini Economic Strategy, with its focus of unlocking industrial development, and the Industrial Land Strategy, which focuses on both greenfield and brownfield projects.

Next, Glen Robbins of UKZN provided some of the preliminary results of the eThekwini Municipal Area Large and Medium Manufacturing Firm Survey. He explained that the study is currently at its mid-point, and that the purpose of the survey is to understand the finer aspects of manufacturing in the City. Some of the interesting preliminary findings include the fact that the number of firms importing from outside of the country is rapidly increasing, while the value of Durban’s exports has decreased, i.e. Durban is becoming increasingly reliant on exports. Another particularly interesting finding is that nearly a third of the sample is no longer operating as a manufacturer, while a further group are still operating, but no longer engaging in manufacturing activities.

Ndumiso Mlambo, of the Best Practice City Commission (BPCC), informed the audience that the purpose of the BPCC is to facilitate investment linkages and reduce the cost and time associated with investment and doing business in Durban. He went-on to unpack the IDZ and SEZ landscape in the metropolitan area, and highlighted the fact that we grossly under-utilise the port. He stressed that we must work harder to identify opportunities to maximise our significant strategic advantages.

Then, Prasheen Maharaj, CEO of Southern African Shipyards, explained the successes they have recently achieved with the awarding of a tender to build nine tugboats for Transnet, valued at R 1,45 billion. He added that National Treasury has issued a regulation which stipulated that all vessels which are to be procured by the SA government and/or its entities must be built in South Africa, with a minimum of 60% local content. He encouraged the audience not to sit-back and dwell on the dire state of affairs in the manufacturing industry, but rather take the initiative to exploit government policy and strategy. He made specific mention of the president’s intention to fast-track Operation Phakisa, and ensure the development of the ocean economy. He urged suppliers that are not traditionally supplying the maritime sector to modify their supplies to be suited to the maritime sector.

A number of questions and concerns were raised by the audience, and the general consensus is that this forum for manufacturers should be on-going intervention, and that there is significant scope for the DCCI and SEIFSA to assist local manufacturers.

Should you be interested in engaging in this Forum, or should you have any concerns as a local manufacturer, please contact Shivani Singh for more information.

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