At the recent Kwa Zulu Natal Manufacturing Indaba, Stavros Nicolaou, member of the Brics Institute Advisory Board and SA Brics Business Council, issued a call to action – Become a Manufacturing activist of made in South Africa, which became a rallying cry of the Indaba. 

With its multiplier effect every new manufacturing job can create 5-8 indirect jobs  is a definitive reason to utilise manufacturing as a key base for economic and employment growth. To do this we require competitiveness, productivity and skills, especially with the advent of the fourth industrial revolution. 

Mr Nicolaou discussed 3 key activities that could be undertaken by South Africa to achieve large manufacturing growth rates and commensurate GDP growth.

Replace import with local: In a survey conducted by Proudly SA almost half of the top imported items could be replaced by locally produced items. 
Buy local, and utlise existing frameworks, such as preferred procurement in Government and Business
Create an export incentive.

These were explored in more detail the 3 panels of the Indaba. 

Maximizing the market: Support mechanisms  to manufacturers

Access to new markets for manufacturers

Manufacturing the future: Be part of the 4th Industrial Revolution and understand the impacts for your company

The panel “Access to new markets” was chaired by Sherrie Donaldson, Director at the Brics Institute whose purpose is to foster economic growth and prosperity amongst the BRICS nations through education, research, consulting and business development initiatives. Ms Donaldson was supported by panelists from the dti, Amka, SA Electrotechnical Export Council and Lasher. The panelists discussed issues affecting manufacturing. 

These included
political, especially political uncertainty and political unrest
economic issues,
exchange rates and other financial issues  
service delivery, 
demographic changes.

The panelists reiterated the words of the KZN MEC for Economic Development in that we are not island and what happens in the world affects Manufacturers in South Africa.  All of these factors contribute to the VUCA environment Manufacturers operate within. 

New trade groupings such as BRICS and new trade agreements such as the Africa Free trade agreement have made access to new markets easier and panelists urged delegates to understand support structures available and to participate in the various forums such as export councils. 

The panelists input can be summarized as follows:

We are in Africa, not separate to it, so take advantage of the opportunities this creates 

Take small steps outward using SA as your base

Do your homework and use resources available to verify companies and opportunities

Plan your strategy carefully

Resource appropriately 


Economies of the BRICS nations are among the fastest growing in the world and with a combined population of over three billion, BRICS has become the largest economic block and market in the world.  Unlocking the economic potential of the BRICS economic block presents a game-changing opportunity for BRICS member countries. 

The BRICS Institute has been initiated and positioned to help to unlock this potential by developing, mobilizing and bringing together decision makers and influencers to take advantage of the BRICS opportunity through business matchmaking, networking, study tours, education, research and consulting initiatives and can assist companies in identification of opportunities and a how to practically ‘do’ business in each Brics Country to facilitate implementation of the opportunities

Sherrie Donaldson
Director The Brics Institute
Secretariat SA Brics Business Council Manufacturing Working Group