By growing the capacity to increase the quantity of local content for both local and international consumption, the rate of unemployment could be dramatically decreased. It was apparent at the inaugural Local Southern African Manufacturing Expo, held in Johannesburg in late May, that there is a large and receptive market for local products.

“The ‘Local is Lekker’ ambience was really evident at the Expo, with exhibitors and visitors thrilled at the opportunity to engage with each other and develop future supply chains and business ties,” says Charlene Hefer, portfolio director for Specialised Exhibitions Montgomery. 

Hefer points out that the show welcomed 3 743 visitors, a substantial achievement for a first-time exhibition. 

“I’m a great believer in South Africa and especially in South African business. We believe that more products need to be sourced locally and the Expo was a fantastic platform to enable that. It was an amazing show and provided the local market with great exposure,” says visitor Eugene Gopaul from GEEZ Imports & Exports.

“The Expo was the culmination of a vision that the South African Capital Equipment Export Council (SACEEC) has nurtured for a number of years. We fully believe that the time has come for local manufacturing to take centre stage by capturing a large slice of the international pie, together with replacing imported products with local alternatives,” says Eric Bruggeman, CEO at SACEEC.

In his presentation at the free-to-attend SAIMechE Seminar Theatre, Bruggeman emphasised that South African manufacturers need to learn to market their strengths through entrepreneurship, aftersales service, innovation, 4IR, as well as finding the right BBBEE partners and technology partners. “We can no longer work in isolation. This is a team effort, if you will, and requires full participation and dedication from all stakeholders.”

This sentiment was echoed by Steve Jardine of Recapitalise, who said: “Re-industrialisation of South Africa takes team work and skill to access markets and achieve the levels of local content desired. It takes thousands of entities working together, although independently, to achieve an increase in productive outputs and sustainable growth across the economy.”

“Perhaps the best way to describe this coming together and supporting local efforts, instead of importing goods which are often inferior to the local counterparts, is ‘ubuntu’. This all-encompassing Nguni word typifies the African way of doing business and is the perfect descriptor for the need to support local businesses. We firmly believe that this first Local Manufacturing Expo has planted the seed of working together to keep the country’s money in the country instead of spending it on imported goods,” says Hefer.  

In addition to the wide array of locally manufactured products and local services showcased at the Expo, visitors enjoyed 12 informative seminar sessions, the hands-on Skills Development Zone hosted by the Artisan Training Institute (ATI), and the SA Mining Supply Chain Conference and Workshop, which had 112 delegates over two days. The conference and workshop fostered positive interaction and produced a number of tangible goals. According to Ronnel Yankana of the Mandela Mining Precinct these included the fact that local industry requires robust coordination to capitalise on the opportunities behind the Mining Charter 3 for the development of local content and localising our supply chain. “This would encourage import displacement and enhance our competitiveness through:
  • Building strong supply chain clusters
  • Technology and R&D investments
  • Implementing coding for standards, inventory and supply chain control
  • Understanding the needs and requirements from the end users (mines)
  • Investigating/developing funding vehicles to assist local players.

In addition, mechanisation and automation could be jobs neutral and create more jobs if the mining-supply chain developed locally.”

To find out more about the Local Southern African Manufacturing Expo 2021 visit the website at 

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