Business Unity South Africa (BUSA) has revealed its intentions to stimulate manufacturing in South Africa. Manufacturing was unveiled as one of the vital areas for partnership with the government at BUSA’s inaugural Business Economic Indaba. The Indaba took place on the 29th of January 2019 and was described as “Strategic dialogue for a transformed & inclusive economy”. Several notable figures took part in the discussions, including President Cyril Ramaphosa, finance minister Tito Mboweni, various CEO’s, including JSE CEO Nicky Newton-King and Standard Bank CEO Sim Tshabalala as well as other knowledgeable individuals.
At the Indaba, attendees and speakers highlighted manufacturing as a key priority. In the 1980s manufacturing accounted for 24% of the nation’s GDP, but this number had dropped to 13% in 2017. Manufacturing Circle chairperson, Ayanda Mngadi identified some of the hurdles faced in the endeavour to grow manufacturing, namely: the difficulties of complying with the World Trade Organisations (WTO) rules. The manufacturing sector has been hard hit in the past years, losing 300 000 jobs in the last 11 years. Mngadi had a silver lining for the manufacturing sector; however; “We are in conversation [with the government], we are planning. But what is important is that we are crafting a way together, and not just us and government, but with labour organisations.”. The focus on manufacturing was later echoed by President Ramaphosa at the state of the nation address, as he made reference to the importance of manufacturing and emphasised the importance of investment on this sector.
BUSA was established in 2003, the first representative and unified organisation for business in South Africa. The organization describes their role with the words, “BUSA is committed to building an enabling environment to achieve a vibrant, diverse and globally competitive economy that harnesses the full economic and human potential of South Africa. The objectives of growth, transformation and employment are mutually reinforcing. They are captured in detail in the Business Approach to Black Economic Transformation for Inclusive Growth launched in June 2017.”