South African steel fabricators will need to focus on offering a competitive, turnkey value-added solution to win market share in sub-Saharan Africa and further north on the continent, International Steel Fabricators of South Africa (ISF) director Neels van Niekerk states.
“South African structural steel fabricators need to offer markets steel solutions in much the same way as the local agricultural industry has exported South African steel-based agricultural products. Here, the successes are based on South African companies not only supplying the product but also a complete and relevant engineering solution – from producing the product to the establishment of overseas markets for these products,” Van Niekerk says.
He adds that South Africa’s steel industry should, over the next ten years, also have a stronger focus on supplying its fabricated structural steel to infrastructure projects, including the construction of numerous road and rail bridges and the thousands of kilometres of electricity transmission lines that will be built in Southern Africa.
This focus will be supported by the ISF and other marketing structures, which are actively and successfully marketing South African-manufactured products throughout the sub-Saharan Africa region.
“In fact, our efforts have not been confined to only the sub-Saharan region,” Van Niekerk says. “In the first half of this year, the ISF increased its efforts to directly market South Africa’s structural steel industry in Mozambique, Ethiopia, Sudan, Burkina Faso, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi by visiting existing and prospective clients, as well as by attending industry exhibitions and Department of Trade and Industry-supported missions.
“To further market its member organisations as potential sup- pliers of African projects, the ISF took its largest-ever delegation to the Africa Down Under mining convention in August this year, which is held yearly in Perth, Western Australia, where most new-mine construction decisions for Africa are made. The ISF exhibited at the event and also had preconference sessions with major potential clients,” says Van Niekerk.
Adding Value and Cost Reduction
But, warns Van Niekerk, marketing alone will not suffice – adding value and cost reduction are also imperative.
“To remain competitive in the African market, South African structural steel fabricators must ensure they add more value to steel products,” he concludes.