*** Headline photo: the dtic’s Bongani Lukhele ***
The Trajectory of SA Industrialisation is with Knowledge Generators – Nontombi Marule

The trajectory of the South African industrialisation is with knowledge generators who will develop technologies that will increase the uses of Platinum Group Metals (PGMs) in order to create jobs and be competitive in both export markets and the domestic economy. This was said by the Director of Innovation and Technology at the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (the dtic), Ms Nontombi Marule, who was addressing the Platinum Group Metals (PGMs) colloquium that took place in Pretoria.

The colloquium was held under theme Adopting an Industrialisation Approach in Platinum Group Metals Technology Development” to Achieve Socio-economic Sustainability,” and was attended by Post-Doctoral, Doctoral, Masters, Honours and final year students studying metallurgy and chemical engineering.

The objective of the colloquium was to highlight the importance of developing technologies that will stimulate industrialisation. The PGMs colloquium is aligned to South Africa’s industrial policy objectives of diversification beyond current reliance on traditional commodities, such as minerals, to increase value-addition or mineral beneficiation. 

Marule noted that diversification of the economy was vital, adding that South Africa had committed  to move away from a resource-based economy to a knowledge-based economy and develop skills and technology that will increase manufacturing. Minerals alone are not sufficient, the country needs to industrialise as a country, she emphasised.

Marule added that the dtic was focused on conversion of all knowledge forms inclusive of research and development, indigenous knowledge and grassroot innovation to support entrepreneurship, create new industries and support sustainability of existing industries through new products, processes and promoting exports.

“The government has policies in place and it creates an enabling environment, but we need the academia and the private sector to take a lead in developing technologies and developing skills to extract opportunities that these metals presents. As government, we are committed to collaborative efforts by various state organs, private sector and academia to deliver on the socioeconomic challenges of the country,” stressed Marule.

South Africa has approximately 90% of the world’s PGMs reserves and government recognises that the PGMs sector contributes significantly to South Africa’s economy. South Africa country is seeking ways to industrialise in order to address historical structural challenges in the market wherein the country is just known as a net exporter of raw minerals,” said Marule.

According to Dr Natalie Shackleton, a Technical Specialist in Metallurgy, in a 2012 survey major weaknesses and threats identified were shortage of skilled people in the industry and at South African universities in the area of minerals processing to enable sustained development of a technological base and the inefficiencies of existing processes. Shackleton highlighted the need for efficient use of energy, water and better management of waste and said that investment in skills and technology development remained critical for South Africa to benefit from PGMs.

“The promotion of sustainable development of the South African minerals processing industry through the development of globally competitive and innovative technology, driven by people with world-class skills can be achieved. It can be done by backing up emerging academics and researchers at South African universities and funding appropriate research projects. Joint ventures between industry and researchers should be formed in order for industry to guide the process of selecting research project that will be of interest to industry with government supporting funding,” said Shackleton.

**** The Director of Innovation and Technology at the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (the dtic), Ms Nontombi Marule addressing delegates at the colloquium***


Agriculture and Agro-Processing are Crucial Economic Sectors to Transform the Economy

Stakeholders and students attending a two-day Student Exposure Workshop that was hosted by the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (the dtic) in Potchefstroom agreed that agriculture and agro-processing are crucial economic sectors and drivers to transform the economy and create jobs in the country.

The purpose of the workshop was to expose agribusiness students to opportunities available in the agro-processing sector and share the available government offerings for the agro-processing industry. It was also aimed at cultivating entrepreneurship and promoting opportunities for self employment and innovation amongst the youth, especially with the increasing number of unemployed youth.

According to the Director of Agro-processing at the dtic, Ms Thembelihle Ndukwana the agro-processing sector has a potential to become an industrial impetus that can create jobs and address some of the country’s macro-economic challenges facing the country.

“The sector was identified by the National Development Plan (NDP) as an important sector for its potential to spur growth and create jobs, due to its backward linkages with the primary agricultural sector. It is also among the sectors that have the highest employment multipliers in the economy and entry, as well as an active participation of Small and Medium Enterprises, in particular the youth, is limited,” said Ndukwana.

Speaking at the same workshop, Potchefstroom College of Agriculture alumni, Mr Thabo Dithakwe, who owns an agro-processing company in the North-West, said as a proud product of the college, he now owns a commercial farm that he is currently leasing unlike previously when he was sharing communal land with other farmers.

“I am mainly in primary production of live animals but like I indicated, the journey of agro-processing started while I was at the college and not at the end of my training. I started doing odd jobs in farms on weekends and during school holidays. I also started doing my own research on how I can kick-start my career and got a mentor,” said Dithakwe.

Dithakwe, who started his own business in 2015, said farming had always been part of his life.

“I started building networks while I was young. So students need to start while they are still at the college to make these linkages and build relationships. You do not have to be an owner of a farm or butchery to succeed in this field.  It will also help you to know more about the process and value chains in the sector in order to have a proper plan for your future,” added Dithakwe.

**** Potchefstroom College of Agriculture alumni and businessman, Mr Thabo Dithakwe speaking at the Student Exposure Workshop hosted by the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (the dtic) in Potchefstroom, North-West ***


SA Businesspeople Confident Leads from French Expo will Develop into Deals

The South African businesspeople representing 26 companies who showcased their products in the national pavillion set up by the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (the dtic) at the Sial Paris Food Products Exhibition which concluded in France yesterday, are confident that the leads that they generated during the exhibition will soon develop into concrete deals.

The South African companies where amongst the more than 7 000 exhibitors from all over the world who pulled out all the stops to attract the attention of buyers, distributors, agents and exporters who descended on the Paris show in search of mouth-watering and distinct products.

Today the businesspeople are headed home with bagsful of leads that they generated during the five-day show. The arduous task of separating the wheat from the chaff will begin in earnest as soon as they are back in their offices.

“We are excited about the interest that various companies and businesspeople from across the globe shown in our products. We subsequently managed to obtain about 30 leads. We are not worried about the amount of work and time that we will use sorting the leads and following up on them because we are optimistic that at least four or five of them are likely to develop into concrete and lucrative deals,” said the owner of  the Stellenbosch-based Spicy Bulldog food company, Mr David Stephens. His products consist of wholegrain mustard, chutney and chilli sauce.

The Managing Director of House of Natural Butter, Ms Debbie Ncube, was overwhelmed by excitement at the amount of attention that her peanut butter products attracted from international distributors and buyers.

“Participation in this expo was an eye-opener for me as a businesswoman who got this opportunity to exhibit on an international platform for the first time. Our product arose a lot of interest amongst the international buyers. I interacted with more than 40 of them from all the continents, about 40% of whom showed that they have genuine interest in doing business with us, and other companies from South Africa.  From here we will be proceeding to Brussels where we have a meeting with a Belgium company that would like to procure our peanut butter for their retail stores,” said an elated Ncube.

For another first time international exhibitor, Ms Roshni Morar, who is the co-founder of Roska Artisan Ice Cream, a Johannesburg-based company, the exposure that her company received by participating in Sial Paris, was beyond her imagination.

“To me just being here as part of the SA companies exhibiting at this huge show is a phenomenal experience that I will cherish for a long time. I am inspired because our product was received very well by people who visited our stand to enquire about it. But more importantly, I have met the right people from different parts of the world who expressed interest in our product. I am sure that the meetings that will ensue hereafter will bear positive results,” added Morar.

The International Sales Manager of Carmien Tea, Mr Charl Rudman reckoned it was beneficial for his company to participate in Sial Paris as he managed to hold meetings with existing clients, as well as a number of potential clients.

“What was more interesting is that we saw buyers and distributors from across the world, as far as Brazil and Argentina. We saw a lot of interest from other countries that we did not expect. Overall, we have good leads, including two representatives of retail stores that showed real interest in doing some business with us,” added Rudman, whose company is based in Citrusdal, Western Cape.

*** The Co-founder of Roska Artisan Ice Cream, Ms Roshni Morar, giving visitors to her stand a taste of her ice cream ***


Rapid Success for a Local Company Following Participation at the Electra Mining Africa EXPO

Barely a month after showcasing its business offerings at the Electra Mining Africa Expo in Johannesburg, a local emerging business, Metal Engineering Manufacturing Works (MEM Works) has secured over R1 million worth of new business.

MEM Works was one of the South African small, medium and micro enteprises (SMMEs) supported by the Department of Trade Industry and Competition (the dtic) in partnership with the Gauteng Growth and Development Agency (GGDA) to showcase their business offerings at the annual international exhibition which took place in Johannesburg last month.

The exhibition affords companies an opportunity to display their products in order to demonstrate the latest technology advancements and at the same time getting feedback from buyers. The exhibitors also get a chance to engage with their peers in industry to forge collaborations and partnerships, identity gaps between their offering and what the world is offering especially in relation to digitisation, sustainability and supplying equipment that speak directly to the bottom line for mining companies.

MEM Works has received orders from major local companies, among them Process Engineering, Nexus and Otsem. Their products include specialised fastening equipment, as well as tool and die machinery for the extrusion industry. The orders have been on items  such as plating, shims and specialised precision engineering equipments.

The Managing Director of MEM Works, Mr Kofi Asiedu-Darkwah, says  they are positively overwhelmed by the level of uptake of their products and the new customers they have gained from their exposure at the Electra Mining Africa Exhibition. He believes this is testament to the true value of such initiatives.

“We were optimistic when we applied for support, but we thought if we are able to get R200 000 worth of orders in a space of six months, we would regard that as success.  We are therefore elated to have generated R1.1 million within three weeks. We have quoted a lot more and we have had to turn down some orders, that we believed were not beneficial to our business.  We got more positive leads from the exhibition, so we are confident that there is more revenue in store for us,” he said.

In addition, Asiedu-Darkwah is happy that their rapid progress contributes to demonstrating what is truly possible when transformation is genuine and done right.

“The engineering sector has been somewhat slow to warm up to the transformation agenda. So we were conscious of that when we bought the 51% stake in MEM Works and ensuring we are in the trenches in terms of the day-to-day running and management of operations. We have committed ourselves to showcasing the true benefits of transformation and we are on the right track, because since we joined this business in 2019, we have managed to grow the revenue by up to 80%, and this happened during the tumultous time of the Covid- 19 pandemic.” he said.

The Chief Director of Competitiveness Incentives atthe dtic, Mr Hawie Viljoen says the department spent over R568 702 to fund 10 companies to participate in the exhibition with the goal of transforming and improving supply chains and the economy of the country.

Government is alive to the fact that to change the structure of the economy the promotion of increased value-addition per capita, characterised particularly by movement into non-traditional tradable goods and services that also compete in export, whilst reducing imports through localisation,  is essential. The mining value chain plays a very critical role to diversify further and intensify industrialisation within  a knowledge economy,” he said.

*** The Managing Director of Metal Engineering Manufacturing Works, Mr Kofi Asiedu-Darkwah at the company’s premises in Alberton, Johannesburg ***


Perseverance and Resilience Will Help SA Companies Break into French Market – SA Ambassador Seokolo

The South African Ambassador to France, H.E. Tebogo Seokolo, says the South African businesspeople will need copious amounts of perseverance and resilience if their ambitions of breaking into the French market were to be realised.

Amb Seokolo was speaking after visiting the South African National Pavillion that has been set up by the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (the dtic) for 26 companies to exhibit their products in the biennial Sial Paris Food Products Exhibition that opened its doors today.

After visiting all the companies’ exhibition stands and interacting with the SA businesspeople, Amb Seokolo expressed his happiness at the SA pavillion, the composition of the business delegation and the quality of products that they companies are displaying in France.

“I must admit that I am very impressed by the efforts that our government spearheaded by the dtic have made to ensure our pavillion stands distinctly out amongst other countries’ pavilions. This is really a very beautiful and distinguishable structure that captures one’s attention from far,” said Amb Seokolo.

He added that the second impressive aspect of the SA participation in Sial Paris was the composition of the companies that are exhibiting their products.

“We have a combination of big companies, small and medium enterprises, as well as black-owned, and women-owned companies. This is a truly perfect mix that is representative of the objectives we want to achieve as government by exposing all of these sizes and types of companies to the opportunities available in the international market like France. The big companies will have the capacity to take advantage of the large prospects that the French economy offer, while the SMEs will get the exposure that they need to grow, as well as orders and deals that they can manage to service as part of their expansion and growth,” explained Amb Seokolo.

He also admitted that he was impressed by the quality and diversity of the food products that the agro-processing companies had brought to France to showcase.

“I am optimistic that the kind of products that our companies are displaying will not only whet the appetite of the international distributors, importers, agents and buyers, but will also stimulate their desire to negotiate possible deals that will see these proudly South African products being exported to France and beyond,” said Amb Seokolo.

However, he said it was important that he emphasised and cautioned the SA companies that  there was no way that their journey was going to be a walk in park.

“Our businesspeople need resilience, persistence and perseverance in order to break into this market. It is not an easy market and companies are not going to come here once and crack it instantly. They need to return and build trust amongst the local business community and potential buyers before any serious negotiations can even begin,” advised Amb Seokolo.

**** The South African Ambassador to France, H.E. Tebogo Seokolo tasting honey bush tea produced by the Cape Honeybush Tea Company as co-owner, Mr Phillip Nel, and the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition’s  (the dtic), Ms Hloniphile Nkiwane look on ****


Bongani Lukhele – Director: Media Relations
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E-mail: BLukhele@thedtic.gov.za
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