Innovation needed to rescue SA’s sinking steel sector

27 November 2019 | Web Article Number: ME201917289

Construction, Civil & Structural Engineering
Government & Municipal
Import / Export
Metals & Alloys

The innovation on display at the recent South African Institute of Steel Construction’s (SAISC’S) annual Steel Awards stands as a stark contrast to what is happening in South Africa’s beleaguered steel construction industry.

That’s according to SAISC CEO Paolo Trinchero, who said the industry had shrunk, and thousands of jobs lost over the past four years, with many long-standing construction companies having either closed or gone into business rescue.

“Unless a country is successfully industrialised, it will sink back into being an economic backwater. One has to look at the companies who participated in the 2019 steel awards and use what they have done as a template for running both industry and the country as a whole.”

He said one attribute these successful companies possess is courage. “Innovation takes courage. It takes courage to step outside what are normally accepted bounds and to produce something exceptional. As South Africans, we have shown many times that we are capable of great courage when it’s needed,” Trinchero said.

“Periodically, we need the ability to re-imagine ourselves, to step back and dispassionately and critically look at our organisations and where they’re going. As an Institute, we are currently embarking on just such an exercise and would encourage industry and government to do the same to avoid South Africa’s relegation to the D division.”

He said agility and the ability to network were other attribute shared by the award-winning companies.

“In business, it is about networking and connecting. Those companies that have good relationships with their suppliers, the people who give them work, the staff and their competitors are definitely in a better position for success.”

Trinchero said that the institute, as the collective voice of the steel industry, had been “intensively communicating” with the Department of Trade and Industry, among other government organisations, to find a constructive solution to the current situation.

“A concern of the Institute is the inordinate amount of time taken to effect government initiatives. Many businesses in the steel industry do not have the luxury of six months to wait while in new ‘steel industry blueprint’ is drawn up by a government department. At this stage, the need for positive change is more than urgent,” he said

“The SAISC sincerely wishes to partner with private and public sector organisations in whatever way possible to reach a better, more sustainable future, both of the steel industry and our nation as a whole.”

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