The Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa (SEIFSA) wishes all its member a productive and prosperous 2024, which is likely to be another busy and challenging year, with wage negotiations, general elections, load-shedding, high inflation, geo-political uncertainty and a volatile exchange rate just some of what we can expect.
As the country prepares to go to the polls, we hope that politicians will finally embrace reality and commit to doing what is best for the country and that the many examples of the dysfunctional state of local government can begin to be addressed through the ballot box.
In March it will be a full year since Kgosientsho Ramokgopa was appointed Minister in the Presidency responsible for Electricity in an attempt to solve the country’s energy crisis. With load shedding being the main growth killer, we desperately need some good news on this front as the rolling blackouts have wreaked havoc on our already fragile economy.
Stats SA data showed that the economy contracted 0.2% in the third quarter of 2023 after two quarters of expansion, and the full year outlook is for the economy to have grown by a marginal 0.8%. This is not welcome news, given the backdrop of rising unemployment, along with increasing input and energy costs. The contraction also implies less tax revenue for Government, which means even less money to meet its many commitments.
Treasury’s surprise announcement in early December that it would provide Transnet with a R47bn support package to help it meet its immediate debt obligations, among other commitments, will hopefully go some way towards helping the parastatal resolve its many challenges, which have had a devastating effect on exporters, including steel manufacturers. Also, importantly is the conditionality attached to the bailout, which includes ensuring greater private sector participation in the logistics sector, which will enhance efficiencies through competition.
Globally, the outlook remains weak, with the risk that interest rates will remain higher for longer adding to an economic environment that is generally unsupportive of economic growth. With the geo-political landscape remaining volatile uncertainty abounds and impacts negatively on business and investor confidence.
In 2024 SEIFSA will continue to be vocal in articulating the concerns of the Metals and Engineering Sector, both in the media and in meetings with various influential stakeholders, including Government Ministers as SEIFSA remains convinced that many of the country’s challenges can be best addressed through private-public partnerships. Fixing South Africa can be done one way only: the government and business working hand in hand. The greatest opportunity lies in exploiting private sector participation in public infrastructure delivery through public-private partnerships
While cognisant of the many issues the country faces, we believe in the fundamental resilience of South Africans and of South Africa and we are ready for another year of service and support for our members.
On behalf of the SEIFSA Board, Council, Member Associations and Executive we look forward to continuing our collective journey of partnership and success with you in 2024.
Chief Executive Officer
For further information please visit: www.seifsa.co.za