By: Anna Majavu
The Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (DTIC) has the furniture and green energy industries in its sights as it tries to find ways for local industries to replace imported products with those locally made. “We need to get the private sector to embrace localisation and do more on the procurement side,” DTIC Minister Ebrahim Patel told the Buy Local Summit held in Sandton, Johannesburg, this week.
DTIC’s acting deputy director-general of industrial competitiveness and growth, Nimrod Zalk, told the conference that the government would support the South African furniture industry, especially the 1100 small furniture businesses, to begin producing high-value-added products that can be exported throughout Africa. Over 200 companies exhibited their products at the summit, with Cabinet ministers, economists, union federation leaders and business representatives speaking at panel discussions about how to draw more locally produced goods into supply chains.
Eustace Mashimbye, CEO of Proudly South African which hosted the summit, said the aim of the conference was to expose locally produced products as widely as possible. “In this way, we can save jobs in those companies and get them to create much-needed new job opportunities”. Speakers at the summit, including Deputy President Paul Mashatile, suggested that the shift away from coal-fired power stations towards green energy would create new opportunities for local businesses to manufacture clean energy components.
These components are usually imported. A Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (DTIC) spokesperson told Vutivi News after the summit that the DTIC would fast-track all applications to do business in the green energy sector through its Energy One Stop Shop. “The DTIC is working with the Independent Power Producers (IPP) Office on localisation and B-BBEE, including the development of the IPPs’ sector codes,” said the spokesperson, adding that the DTIC would also help organs of state to develop their procurement policies, which would need to include localisation, B-BBEE and plans to develop the capacity of local suppliers.
The DTIC was also involved in drafting the new Public Procurement Bill. “The Bill includes legislative provisions dealing with localisation, B-BBEE, supplier and enterprise development,” the spokesperson added. Localisation of the green energy industry has been underscored by the government for at least 11 years, ever since the solar water heater systems that the government installed in over 200 000 homes in 2012 were found to be mainly imported. However, localisation is optional and with many products far cheaper to import than to manufacture locally. This week’s summit again avoided setting a quota of local products that will have to be procured in any supply chain.