SAISC Commentary January 2019

Economists predict that this is likely to be a challenging year. Internationally we have trade tensions and potential slowdowns, and locally 2019 is an election year which brings uncertainty. In times like these it’s very important to accept the realities, devise a strategy, identify priorities and act.

Having experienced a very tough 2018, I think we should all be working very hard to get through this period and engineer opportunities wherever possible. The SAISC and its committed staff will continue to promote the positive image of the South African Steel Industry to all industry players, decision makers and customers. We would like to see the industry coming together on a regular basis to share and solve industry problems in a proactive way.  

There are currently three objectives which the Institute and its sector focused divisions will be engaged in pursuing, essentially forming our value proposition for 2019.

1.Market growth for steel.

All SAISC divisions (Steel Construction, Tube and Pipe, Metal Cladding and Roofing, Light Steel Framing, Powerlines and more) are focused on initiatives to grow and sustain the market for steel construction and related manufacturing.  This includes Steel Framed Multi-Storey buildings, Steel Bridges, Light Steel Framing and various products in the Tube and Pipe and Metal Cladding Industries. Education, training, maintenance of technical standards and quality are a key component of these initiatives. Keep an eye out for full scale fire tests on the SAISC modular building system.

2.Retaining the South African market share.

3.Developing regional markets to increase steel consumption.

Where are the opportunities you may ask?  (Many we have yet to discover)

  • Significant investments have been promised from various international sources and we may see projects gaining some ground this year.
  • We have a world class mining industry that may well start spending if the policy environment improves. Our EPCM’s are getting busy which means we may see a turning point from care and maintenance to investment. This helps the construction, manufacturing and mining industries. The SAISC has been collaborating with the Mandela Mining Precinct and we hope to be able to report back on some projects in 2019.
  • Our SOE’s finances despite being in intensive care could improve in time. All SAISC and divisions have worked very hard to encourage localization and continue to encourage unlocking of projects.
  • Our industry is leaner than it has been for a long time and it will benefit from an uptick in the economy.

Steel construction has a number of favourable policy support measures with regards to fair trade and many have been rolled out across the various SAISC divisions to widen the net as far as possible. There is still much work to be done but co-operation amongst the membership will be a necessity.

We cannot rely on support measures to protect our industry alone as we have seen that domestic growth and competitiveness are key.

We would appreciate your comments to ensure we are on the right track and delivering on our mandate.