Members of the BRICS Skills Development Working Group moderated a panel at the Manufacturing Indaba: Re-industrialising South Africa: The mining and manufacturing interface. 

Supporting domestic procurement and localisation, building on its successes, and securing private sector support is a priority for Government. Achieving this requires collaborative efforts to drive reindustrialisation and would derive benefits for both sectors and the economy at large. 

The purpose of the panel was to look at the case for an enhanced interface between Mining and manufacturing – should this be a focus, if yes, how can it be achieved? Additionally panellists addressed the constraints for achieving this outcome. 

Panellists included the Mining Equipment Manufacturers of South Africa cluster organisation (Memsa), IDC, United Industrial Cables (specialist industry suppliers), Mining Phakisa and Sasria.

Mining and manufacturing combined contribute approximately 20% to GDP (based on GDP at market prices) and they employ around 500,000 people, ultimately touching 4 million lives. With 2012 statistics, reflecting a contribution of over 60% to local procurement the economic transformation of both industries is key to achieving social upliftment, transformation and reindustrialisation.  

The Business case for creating an interface between the two industries includes:

  • Impact on local production both upstream and downstream with downstream creating
    • export opportunities, especially into the rest of  Africa
    • employment opportunities 
  • Skills development opportunities, including reskilling
  • Diversification of the economy
  • Increase in Foreign direct investment
  • Aids economic and social transformation

When looking at how a closer interface could be achieved the panel detailed a number of requirements, including the following

  • Policy frameworks and mechanisms including local content policies
  • Regional trade agreements
  • Research and development capability (we have this in Mining Phakisa)
  • Infrastructure in place
  • Skills development curricula and opportunities

The panel also discussed risks of not creating a closer interface, including unemployment, especially amongst youth, and resulting high levels of frustration, along with possible further jobs losses with automation and technology advances. 

Constraints to achieving a closer interface were discussed by the panellists. All panellists listed skills as constraints. The skills constraints covered Stem (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), research and development capability, as well essential skills such as innovation and creative skills.

 Additionally, a number specifically mentioned leadership in both Government and Business, this is important to create a South African vision and the will to achieve this vision, across multiple parties. 

Additional constraints included:

  • Small market size and a struggling mining industry
  • Lack of technology
  • Lack of business and investor confidence
  • The challenge of getting into the mining industry as a supplier
  • Items missing in the how, such as localised procurement policies, spinoff of the mining charter
  • Generic competencies such as attitude, courage
  • Lack of platforms for showcasing talent and innovation

Several of these constraints are being addressed by Government. We also believe that collaboration between the Brics Skills Development and Manufacturing Working Groups can make a substantial impact on the skills needs identified and look forward to achieving this objective. 

Sherrie Donaldson 
Head of Transformation: Adcorp
Secretariat BRICS Skills Development Working Group South Africa