Eastern Cape auto cluster launched
The Eastern Cape automotive sector support initiative has been launched in Port Elizabeth.
By Andries Mahlangu
The Eastern Cape automotive sector support initiative has been launched in Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape.
The initiative will see a joint collaboration among stakeholders to respond to opportunities and challenges in the sector.
Speaking at the launch on Monday, Trade and Industry Minister Dr Rob Davies praised the soon-to-be-phased out Motor Industry Development Programme (MIDP), which he said, contributed positively to the motor industry in terms of production and export values.
"Production volumes have grown from about 389,000 units in 1995 to a peak of 587,719 units in 2006 before dipping to 373,923 units in 2009, bouncing back to 532,545 units in 2011," said Davies.
The minister added that "the sectoral trade balance continues to be negative due to reliance on importing of OEM [original equipment manufacturers] components".
He pointed an opportunity to increase the local content in domestically assembled vehicles coupled with an expansion of the component export basket.
He also announced the publishing and implementation of guidelines of the automotive production development programme that comes into operation next year to replace the current MIDP. The minister further indicated support measures for the medium and heavy commercial vehicle manufacturers, in addition to the public procurement measures for buses as published in December last year.
Eastern Cape MEC for Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism Mcebisi Jonas outlined the importance of the cluster as means of ensuring a coherent and integrated public sector approach to the automotive sector in the province.
"Today marks the start of a process of ongoing collaboration between the public and private sectors in the Eastern Cape to jointly formulate responses and implement key programmes in the automotive sector. The strategic initiatives agreed upon include logistics; supplier development, localisation and incubation; and skills development," said Jonas.
Stakeholders - which included government, labour and industry - signed a pledge to support the Eastern Cape automotive sector support initiative.
Some of the key initiatives to be realised by the work of the cluster include: corridor development (road and rail) between Nelson Mandela and Buffalo City, Eastern Cape and Gauteng (road and rail); undertaking skills and needs audits within the sector to quantify skills requirements (labour market predictive model); collaboration with the Durban auto cluster in implementing the automotive supplier competitiveness improvement project.