Big chemicals conference for Durban

08 August 2018 | Web Article Number: ME201811113


THE recent signing of commitment to the African Continent Free Trade Area (AfCTA) by 27 African states creates significant opportunity for stronger intra-Africa trade and regional integration.

That’s according to Durban Chemicals Cluster Project Manager John White, who added that intra-Africa trade is seen as one of the ways in which the continent can build itself.

“For chemicals manufacturers, which are a key segment of Durban’s manufacturing base and a critical pillar of our industrial economy, the industrialising African continent represents a market of relatively untapped opportunity and future growth prospects.”

White said the upcoming African Chemicals Imbizo 2018 was an opportunity to harness this potential. “There is undoubtedly room to grow the value of chemical exports from KwaZulu-Natal to the larger economies of Sub-Saharan Africa. Nigeria, Kenya and Angola are the three largest economies in sub-Saharan Africa (excluding South Africa).

“Representatives of large firms from all three of these nations have responded positively to the African Chemicals Imbizo 2018. Other African countries that will be represented at the African Chemicals Imbizo 2018 include Botswana, Zambia, Mauritius, Tanzania, Seychelles, Namibia, Ghana and Zimbabwe.”

Nicole Martens of UN PRI, one of the event’s speakers, described it as a “platform for engagement with industry, stakeholders and government and the conference tackles critical industry-driven topics like investment and growth in Africa, policy and strategy, the future of manufacturing, health safety and legal compliance”.

Other speakers include Jaco Maritz (CEO of How we made it in Africa), Gavin Dalgleish (MD for Illovo Group), Trudi Hartzenberg (CEO of the Trade Lade Centre), Claire Janisch (CEO of Biomimicry SA) and Dr Justin Barnes (Chairman of B&M Analysts).

Taking place 24 to 25 October at the Durban ICC it comprises four parts; a conference that brings together expert industry minds, an exhibition that presents innovative products and key services to the industry, study tours of the Durban manufacturing sector and critically, the hosting of 20 chemicals manufacturing trade partners from across Africa. These trade partners will be arranged one-on-one business meetings with local producers to strengthen export trade and grow the local chemicals industry.

The imbizo is supported by eThekwini Municipality, Trade and Investment KwaZulu-Natal, the Industrial Development Corporation, the Chemical Industries Education and Training Authority, the National Cleaner Production Centre of South Africa and the Durban Chemicals Cluster. It is expected to host 350 delegates from across the sub-Saharan African continent.

Despite a healthy growth in the domestic sales of chemicals, the South African chemicals manufacturing sector is in a challenging position. The dramatic rise in imports and consequent negative trade balance indicates that local producers have not capitalised on the associated growth and development in the sub-Saharan African market.

The decline in exports is also suggestive that domestic manufacturers have found it increasingly difficult to compete effectively in these international markets.

Against this background the imbizo is being positioned as an opportunity for chemicals manufacturers to engage with new buyers and grow their intra-African export market share.

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