THE manufacturing sector in Durban still has an untapped potential for growth and this was evident during the recent Economic Development and Growth in eThekwini (EDGE) Seminar at the Moses Mabhida Stadium. The seminar was hosted by the Policy, Strategy, Information and Research Department within the Municipality’s Economic Development and Investment Promotion Unit in partnership with the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN).

The seminar was held in light of the significance of the manufacturing industry in KwaZulu-Natal and its contribution to both GDP and employment. The theme of the seminar “Making Industrial Policy Relevant at a Local Level” aimed to unpack problems and other matters as they are experienced on the ground by medium and large firms in eThekwini as key actors for job retention and creation and for which there is an imperative to respond. It is critical for policy makers to have a sense of how firms are dealing with current challenges and how they envisage the future.

The seminar falls under the Collaborative Research Study of Manufacturing Sector Firms in Durban where local government has partnered with key stakeholders to gain a better understanding of one of the most significant sectors in our economy.
Deputy City Manager of Economic Development and Planning, Dr Naledi Moyo pointed out, while speaking at the seminar, that the City has recently adopted an Economic Development and Job Creation strategy, which places emphasis on the role of the manufacturing sector. “It sees this region as more than just a conduit of goods for Gauteng, but a globally competitive destination for manufacturing activity. This is also supported and enhanced through the development of the dig-out-port and the Dube Trade Port which caters for time-sensitive goods.”

Moyo further said the industrial policy plays a vital role in promoting long-term industrialisation with the objectives of increasing employment and economic growth opportunities. “The New Growth Path and the National Development Plan (NDP) identify the manufacturing sector as a driver of job creation. The NDP also recognises the need for South African firms to move into more advanced manufacturing and to constantly innovate to remain competitive. It is therefore the City’s role to translate these national policy objectives into robust programmes that will push the local manufacturing industry into achieving global competitiveness and job creation,” said Moyo.
Acting Deputy Director General of the Department of Trade and Industry, Garth Strachan encouraged manufacturers to get into the public space and be clear about the centrality of the manufacturing sector to the economy. Strachan stressed the point of ensuring local production and procurement among both manufacturers and government. He said that municipalities need to make it clear that local procurement is a priority.

Shunnon Tulsiram who heads the Municipality’s Economic Development and Investment Promotion Unit said the City needs to de-codify the incentives and initiatives from the DTI and that an analysis of the performance of KZN firms in accessing these incentives needs to be carried out to assess the extent that local firms are benefiting from these. He further stressed the importance of continuous engagement between the DTI and local government practitioners to bridge the communication gap and to ensure that the views and challenges of local eThekwini manufacturers are adequately addressed at a national policy level.
Glen Robbins, Researcher at the School of Built Environment and Development Studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal urged firms to participate in the Collaborative Research Study of Manufacturing Sector Firms in Durban as this will give firms an opportunity to provide valuable information that can inform policy.

For more information please contact Thabo Mofokeng on 031 311 4820/ 0827317456 or email: Thabo1.mofokeng@durban.gov.za.
Issued by the eThekwini Municipality's Communications Unit. Contact Sane Shandu on 031 311 4806/072 572 8658 or email: Sanelisiwe.Shandu@durban.gov.za