THE YEAR OF LIVING BRAVELY
The 26 March 2020 will go down in history as the day our country changed forever. This was the day an unprecedented hard lockdown ground 60-million South African lives to an instant halt and it truly felt as if life as we knew it was gone forever. The months that followed were challenging to say the least, thanks to the ever present threat of the pandemic and severely constrained business conditions, leading to lost revenue, job losses and company closures.
As we entered 2021, the Sassda Team started to seek some perspective on the previous twelve traumatic months, and we held a strategic planning session to assess the changes the previous year had wrought on our industry. As a result of this session, we are focused on consolidating the quick adaptions we made last year and remain committed to becoming an even more flexible and agile, industry relevant association that furthers its goal of growing stainless steel demand locally and adding value to our members’ bottom line in a variety of ways.
BENEFITS YOU CAN SEE AND THOSE YOU CAN’T
That said, we know that many of our members are under severe financial pressures and we remain committed to ensuring their membership fee yields a significant return on investment. However, one of the biggest challenges we have always, and continue to face, is to provide a clear understanding that the value we provide comes from both intangible and tangible (quantifiable) forms.
The intangible benefits we provide, are: raising awareness of stainless steel in the market via our communication and marketing activities, and our unique lobbying and networking activities. These are harder to quantify, but the pay offs of these activities are just as valuable as the more immediate ones.
The tangible benefits we supply that do add instant Rand value are: member discounted courses, free technical advice, and webinars.
WHAT WE’VE ACHIEVED THUS FAR
With that in mind we have therefore wasted no time jumping into 2021 to prove our worth and have already begun a range of initiatives in line with our five pillars. A couple of the highlights of our activities thus far are as follows:
The launch of our 60 Minutes with Stainless weekly webinars in 2020 proved highly successful and we began our 2021 series in February with excellent attendance. We have already covered a range of topics, including Africa Market focus from industry expert Africa House on key markets of Tanzania and Kenya, as well as looking at fundamental aspects of stainless steel to assist member sales teams. Most recently, we focused on key sectors that present great potential for growing local stainless steel demand, namely the use of stainless steel in water supply infrastructure and the health and safety sectors.
Our first live online Fundamentals Course for 2021 was also well attended and our new look course material proved to be extremely popular.
We have also engaged with a variety of associations from sectors we have identified as having the greatest growth potential for the use of stainless steel. These include the Mining Equipment Manufacturers of South Africa where we have held detailed discussions on the value of lifecycle costing and the use of our world-first app to achieve meaningful calculations in this regard.
We are also in discussions with the Water Institute of Southern Africa for increased usage of stainless steel in infrastructure projects. In tandem we will be holding a number of half-day workshops outlining the benefits of stainless steel use in water supply, supported by detailed 30 year ISSF case studies proving this view.
In January, we also started lobbying with the Department of Small Business Development for assistance for our SM&E members in terms of market development and statutory compliance. The value of these members has become clear as they currently represent more than 20% of our member base. As such, we have now created a special Amethyst membership tier to cater for them so that we can add value to their business and foster their growth and the broader growth of our industry.
We have also researched and contacted the 12 regional Special Economic Zones (SEZ’s ) to find value for members and we are in ongoing discussions to maximise the use of local stainless steel manufacture and supply key projects, including the proposed future SA Nuclear Build Programme.
STEEL MASTER PLAN
In addition, we have also been integrally involved with the development of the Steel Master Plan. During a feedback meeting in March 2021 with the dtic, Sassda was informed that the Steel Master Plan has been finalised and awaiting a suitable date for the physical signing by the minister. The broader details of the impact on the stainless steel industry were discussed and explained.
We will continue to work with the dtic as it seeks to establish an oversight council that aims to bring value chains together. We will also monitor implementation, implement trade measures and incentives, create opportunities to boost demand and thereby stimulate local production.
The dtic’s view is that the stainless steel industry has huge potential. Sassda was told that stainless steel is as important to the growth of the steel industry as carbon steel and has immense value added potential and international demand. The possibility of a specific sub-sector plan for the stainless industry was mentioned as a high probability and priority.
In this issue you will see more detail on the activities and initiatives we have planned for the year, as well as some interesting technical articles and more information on trade in Africa. We are also sad to say that we have lost some members to the pandemic. However, our industry still have professional experts who we feel is an excellent example of the passion so synonymous with our industry and the simply brilliant material we are all so invested in.
In this edition we focus on one of those individuals.
Enjoy the read!
Sassda Acting Executive Director