South Africa is slowly making inroads in beneficiation and industrialisation, with the successful construction of the first fuel cell manufacturing facility at the Dube Trade Port being a prime example of what the country can achieve.
The Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (dtic) Director-General, Lionel October, on Wednesday said the fuel cell manufacturing facility, located at the Dube Trade Port Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in KwaZulu-Natal, presents opportunities for platinum beneficiation and new green industries.
October said Vodacom has already deployed 300 of its fuel cells, with the potential for an additional R1 billion in contracts with the telecoms sector.
One of the strategic objectives of the department, October said, is to facilitate transformation in the economy to promote industrial development, investment, competitiveness and employment creation.
October’s comments come as he tabled the Annual Performance Reports for the financial year 2019/20 of the Economic Development Department and the Department of Trade and Industry to the Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry.
“In the pharmaceutical sector, local manufacturer of vaccines, Biovac, was awarded 85% of the Expanded Programme on Immunisation three-year tender, a transversal health contract of the Department of Health. This sustained the 318 specialised jobs in the manufacturing facility in Cape Town.
“In the transition of HIV treatment, local manufacturers were able to access technology to locally manufacture the new treatment,” said October.
In the automotive sector, the DG said several strides have been made, including the launch of the Automotive Industry Transformation Fund in November 2019.
The aim of the fund is to seed, develop and grow black-owned companies within the automotive supply chain.
It is expected to be fully operational from 2021.
October highlighted several key investments made by international motor manufacturing companies such as Ford Motors, Mercedes Benz and Volkswagen in the South African economy.
One of the key initiatives of the dtic has been the development of masterplans for different sectors of the economy, with the aim of developing and protecting them to ensure they contribute towards economic growth and job creation.
October said the Poultry and the Retail-Clothing, Textile and Footwear Masterplans were developed and launched at the Presidential Investment Conference in November 2019.
The South African Poultry Association (SAPA) made a commitment of investment to the tune of R1.7 billion, while R7 billion worth of investment was committed to the clothing and textile industry.
On administrative matters, October said dtic boasted 100% eligible creditor payments processed well within 30 days. The department also surpassed the 50% target of women representivity at senior management level.
The Economic Development Department and the Department of Trade and Industry recently merged to form the dtic following a decision of President Cyril Ramaphosa to restructure government.
The Auditor-General gave both departments clean audit reports for the 2019/20 financial year.