Johannesburg — Stakeholders in South Africa's mineral and manufacturing sectors agreed during a meeting on the interface between mining and manufacturing that "South Africa has the resource wealth, and comparative advantages to rise as a significant manufacturer." The objective of the meeting was to debate the potential of the country to enhance its mining activities and fuel greater manufacturing. Participants underscored that beneficiation and mineral-based value addition are vital for South Africa, and the continent as a whole, stating that these can lead to increased competitiveness and a rise in their share of global manufacturing. However, to unlock this potential, South Africa must take better advantage of its resource endowments and strong industrial base, they stressed.
It was also noted that despite the highest manufacturing value added in Africa and an advanced transportation network, South Africa needs to make critical investments and reforms in order to ensure that its workforce, infrastructure and manufacturing capabilities are competitive globally.
The presentations, discussions and panel sessions stimulated exchange of experiences and lessons learned from various direct stakeholders in mining and manufacturing in South Africa, in order to address the challenges facing the country as it enters its 20th year of democracy. Participants noted that manufacturing features a significant employment multiplier, which has the potential to create jobs for young Africans and produce ripple effects throughout the economy, and that enhancing the linkages between South Africa's large mining activities and manufacturing will pay income- and employment-generating dividends.
In order to provide the continental perspective on the challenges facing both Africa as a whole and South Africa in particular, a presentation on the message of the 2013 Economic Report on Africa (ERA), with the theme of "Making the most of Africa's commodities: industrializing for growth, jobs and economic transformation" was made by an ECA Senior official.
ERA 2013 argues that African countries have a real opportunity, individually and collectively, to promote industrialization and economic transformation by adding value to natural resources and primary commodities. Yet in the mining sub-sector in particular, high global demand and prices for minerals have had little impact on income generation and job creation on the continent, mainly due to the export of such minerals in their primary, low-value forms. Attention is now turning to the means by which mining can serve as a base for greater value addition and commodity-based manufacturing in Africa.
The key message of the report is that massive industrialization based on commodities is both necessary and possible. The presentation highlighted the challenges and opportunities for linkages development in Africa based on firm surveys from 9 African countries. Key challenges to promoting value addition are found to include inadequate linkage development policies and strategies and weak infrastructure and skills development. Focusing on the findings regarding mineral resources in Africa, ensuing discussion noted the importance of coherent industrial and local content policies, knowledge networks and linkages across countries. Greater regional integration will enhance the backward- and forward-linkages between mining operations in one country, and manufacturing in another.
For his part, Member of Parliament, Ben Turok stressed that the proximity of South Africa, and Africa as a whole, to mineral reserves should serve as a strong basis for beneficiation. "To build on South Africa's potential, the interface between government and business must be improved, with more specific and clearer priorities discerned from the many economic plans and visions for the country's development," he said.
The meeting was co-hosted by the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) of South Africa, ECA and the Institute for African Alternatives (IFAA), brought together leaders and experts in the fields of mining, manufacturing, business, government, metallurgy, academia and labour.
Download the report: http://www.uneca.org/sites/default/files/publications/unera_report_eng_f...
This meeting on the interface between mining and manufacturing in South Africa, co-hosted by the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) of South Africa, ECA and the Institute for African Alternatives (IFAA), brought together leaders and experts in the fields of mining, manufacturing, business, government, metallurgy, academia and labour, to debate the potentials South Africa has to enhance its mining activities and fuel greater manufacturing.