Steel Master Plan needs industry’s commitment to take flight

Steel Master Plan needs industry’s commitment to take flight

Almost a year after the launch of the Steel Master Plan (SMP), Scaw Metals CEO Doron Barnes acknowledges the frustration many in the industry feel about the Plan, but he also believes it has the potential to rejuvenate upstream and downstream industries. Much of the criticism of the plan is a result of a misunderstanding of its role, he said.

The Plan — which was launched on June 11 2021 and signed by representatives of Government, Business and Labour — provides a series of practical steps for the steel and engineering industry to follow in order to reinvigorate itself.

The Steel and Engineering Federation of Southern Africa (SEIFSA) will give everyone a chance to discuss their frustration, praise and ask questions about the Plan at the Mainstreaming the Steel Master Plan Conference on May 19 and 20.

Like Barnes, Macsteel CEO Mike Benfield also has strong views about the Plan. “We need to re-energise it, we need to prioritise and we need to get workstreams going around those priorities,” he says. He is concerned that it will not become a reality without a whole-hearted commitment to a list of prioritised infrastructure projects, specifically in the areas of railports and power.

Barnes, in a recent interview with Creamer Media Engineering News & Mining Weekly, is adamant that industry must take the lead. “It is up to industry to take leadership by dedicating time, energy and resources to make it work, rather than sitting back and moaning about all the problems.”

SEIFSA CEO Lucio Trentini agrees with this, saying: “This industry stands ready to make its contribution to translating the government’s vision of reindustrialising the metals and engineering (M&E) sector, and to start translating visions, promises and policy into action and deliverables.”

“We need government to roll-out its promised infrastructure spend, which is absolutely central to the reigniting of industrial capacity in the sector.”

SEIFSA is eager to see many small business owners at the conference. “We urge SMEs to attend the conference so their important voices can also be heard. It is crucial that they too are well represented at the conference” says Trentini.

Large corporates, SMEs, company executives, public servants and anyone keen to find out more can visit the conference website (https://www.seifsa.co.za/product/steel-master-plan-conference/) for all the details of the Mainstreaming the Steel Master Plan conference.

The conference will play host to senior Department of Trade, Industry and Competition officials, representatives from the Steel Oversight Committee, Business and Labour leaders who will analyse the progress of the plans as well as the commitments that will lay the foundations for the development and growth of the M&E sector in the years ahead.

Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition Ebrahim Patel will deliver the keynote address, after an opening address from Elias Monage, SEIFSA President. Other speakers include Irvin Jim, the General Secretary of National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA), and Marius Croukamp, Deputy General Secretary of Solidarity.

There will also be a series of panel discussions looking at supply-side measures, demand-side measures, transformation, resource mobilisation and the African Continental Free Trade Agreement.

Trentini said: “The big gains will be made by moving our infrastructure programme from shallow waters to deep waters and to get it moving on a bigger scale and then introducing a localisation requirement not only on primary steel, but also downstream steel.”

The Mainstreaming the Steel Master Plan conference will be held on May 19 and 20 at Industrial Development Corporation, Sandton. 

The conference will be organised and hosted by SEIFSA in partnership with the Industrial Development Corporation and the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition.

To register, go to: https://www.seifsa.co.za/product/steel-master-plan-conference/

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