Perspective – March 2022



When I reflected on our industry exactly twelve months ago, I mentioned that the industry was venturing into the unknown territory of 2021 and that it would be very easy to get distracted by the negative scenarios the media and all kinds of reports were exposing us to.

Fortunately, when writing this article now, it is clear that the health risks of the pandemic are subsiding and that, with some work, we can look forward to repairing the longer lasting effects. However, since then we have seen the situation in Europe change from stability to the prospect of a massive threat to global peace with the conflict in Ukraine. So once again, the clouds of difficulty are building for our industry with increasing nickel and fuel prices.

There is no denying that 2021 saw a continued trail of destruction with the stainless steel sector not excluded. Despite this, it is important to take a look at some of the positive news and try and build on it.

You might remember that the statistics for 2019 – 2020 showed a drop of 26% in the apparent consumption of stainless steel. This translated into more than a quarter of the stainless steel converted in 2019 having disappeared in a single year. During that time, it meant retrenchments with accompanying loss in: skills, the ability to transfer experience, and institutionalised memory.

This has changed in the last year, with the consumption figures showing a statistical increase of 36% compared to 2021. There are indications that, with some anomalies removed, this figure can be as much as 5% higher. This is encouraging since it means that the value chain is active again with potentially more jobs and, for some, less poverty.

The situation was dire, but as I predicted a year ago, historically our sector has proven itself to be resilient and has learnt the tricks for survival during tough times. The figures show this to be true.

It is also reported that some sectors within the stainless steel industry have excellent order books and the global forecast for stainless steel consumption and demand looks good. This is also reflected in our most recent membership confidence outlook that remains above 50%.

In this issue, we would therefore like to show you some of the positives that we see in our continent. We also discuss the benefits that can reside in Sassda membership. There is also an interesting technical article on 3CR12 in the sugar industry and more information on trade in Africa.

Enjoy the read!