Perspective – July 2023


The South African stainless steel industry has had a significant impact on the country’s economy and industrial development since 1964. This is due to the fact that stainless steel is a versatile material known for its strength and durability, and I believe that these are the characteristics of the people working in the South African stainless steel industry. As you will see in this publication, it is also time for final farewells to one of these people John Cluett who was a legend and stalwart in not only our industry, but also in the international world of breweries.

State of our stainless steel nation

Looking at the current ‘State of the Stainless Steel Nation’ in this issue, one of the notable aspects of the South African stainless steel industry is its contribution to job creation and economic growth. The industry has provided employment opportunities for a significant number of people, both directly and indirectly. From stainless steel production and processing to downstream manufacturing and fabrication, numerous jobs have been created, contributing to the livelihoods of many individuals and families. In this edition, we feature an excellent example of the young professionals in our industry driven by a passion for the material and good business.

Furthermore, this issue shows the industry has played a crucial role in advancing technological capabilities within the country. The production and processing of stainless steel require advanced machinery, equipment, and expertise, leading to the development of specialised manufacturing and engineering skills. This has helped South Africa build a competitive advantage in the global stainless steel market and attract foreign investment.

A volatile market

In recent years, the South African stainless steel industry has faced several challenges. Economic fluctuations, global trade tensions, and fluctuating raw material prices have had an impact on the industry’s performance. Additionally, competition from international manufacturers and fluctuations in demand have put pressure on local stainless steel producers. Sassda therefore maintains a good relationship with both government and peer organisations to address these impacts on our members and industry.

To address these challenges, the industry has focused on enhancing its competitiveness through innovation, research and development, and diversification. Efforts have been made to expand the range of stainless steel products manufactured locally and increase value-added processes. This has not only helped the industry remain resilient but also stimulated technological advancements and increased its market share. An excellent example of this is the use of 3CR12 in the Rail sector and our interview with Columbus Stainless shines a spotlight on the incredible role stainless steel still has to play within this sector.

In addition, our association has actively participated in forums to stimulate local demand and contribute to increasing exports, especially in African markets. Read our overview on doing business in Rwanda in the pages to follow.

Solid prospects

Looking ahead, the country’s infrastructure development plans, urbanisation, and increasing consumer demand for stainless steel products present opportunities for expansion. However, the industry needs to continue investing in research and development, skills development, and adopting advanced technologies to remain competitive in the global market.

By leveraging innovation, diversification, and sustainable practices, the industry can position itself for continued growth and success in the future.

We hope you enjoy this issue!

Michel Basson
Sassda Executive Director