A few green shoots on the horizon

So far this year has got off to a slow start. Projects are few and far between and tender competition is fierce. There are currently initiatives underway where various steel sectors are pulling together to focus on improving the steel supply chain. The main focus areas are in steel construction, tubing and piping, and roofing and cladding. We will keep you informed but will appreciate your comments and concerns from time to time.

I am not going to reflect further on challenges, tariffs and or designation as these are ongoing projects where it is going to take time before we see results in the downstream sector.

The SAISC will keep lobbying for more steel projects and incentives to encourage companies to invest in manufacturing locally. As an industry, we must persevere and not get discouraged as there are a few green shoots on the horizon.

From a project point of view, a few projects and initiatives were highlighted in the budget speech in February. We seem to have an NDP light which will at least keep some of the industry busy.

  • The independent power producer programme will hopefully get back off the ground and will include gas investment opportunities
  • 2 billion has been allocated for industrial infrastructure in special economic zones and industrial parks.
  • 4 billion has been allocated to the Regional Bulk Infrastructure Grant and R12.5 billion to the Water Services Infrastructure Grant.
  • All our metropolitan municipalities are undertaking a portfolio of catalytic, integrated urban development projects that will lead the way in reshaping our cities.

Larger projects are few but we expect continued investment from Eskom and Transnet, the Mtentu and Msikaba bridges may get underway this year and the BMW and Gibela projects are in progress.

Amanuel and Neels will tell you that as a result of some of their more recent trips they are enthusiastic about opportunities north of our border. We have so much to offer as an established steel industry and as an institute.

Our Universities have made good progress on research.  One project, in particular, an MSC Report titled “Office Cost Study: A Cost Comparison Study for a Typical Low-rise Office Building within the South African Construction Industry.” (University of Stellenbosch, Michael Drennan Candidate and Dr Hennie de Clercq Supervisor) deserves a special mention. We now have an independent study which proves that with some innovation steel construction can compete with traditional concrete in South Africa.

On attending a university advisory board meeting last week and it just hits you in the face that our universities have to contend with massive increases in student numbers, declining funding and insufficient staff to provide a quality education. I would like to encourage our members to not only make provision for bursaries but to consider funding the institutions in some way so that they can provide the quality of graduates we need. This is an ongoing problem and we will all need to look for creative solutions.