The KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Government took its first steps towards achieving its goal of stimulating the manufacturing sector by visiting Bell Equipment’s factory in Richards Bay this week to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing the sector.The delegation, led by Leader of Government Business and KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Economic Development, Tourism & Environmental Affairs (EDTEA), Nomusa Dube-Ncube, also included Acting Deputy Head of EDTEA, Siza Sibande, and Executive Manager: Corporate Services for Trade and Investment KwaZulu-Natal, Mxolisi Miya.
A factory tour illustrated the potential that exists within the manufacturing sector and highlighted how Bell Equipment has heeded government’s call to ‘buy local’ and helped to create and sustain decent jobs.
Bell Equipment’s Group Chief Executive Officer, Leon Goosen, said the company directly employees approximately 3 000 people in South Africa and supports a deep supply chain of 1 000 South African companies, of which half are based in KZN. The close proximity of Bell Equipment to the industrial ports of Durban and Richards Bay allows Bell to export to 80 countries around the world.
“My visit to Bell Equipment is a display of our commitment to working with big business to grow our economy,” said Dube-Ncube, who called the visit a “huge success”. She added that the manufacturing sector is the second largest in the country, providing 20% of the province’s employment and contributing 25% to the KZN’s GDP. Bell Equipment, as the country’s leading original equipment manufacturer, is one of the sector’s biggest success stories.
“We appreciate that there is a Memorandum of Understanding between the South African National Roads Agency (SANRAL) and Bell Equipment. This MoU gives small contractors access to earthmoving machinery and technical support from Bell Equipment. We support this MoU because we want small players to participate more meaningfully in major construction projects.”
“We further support SANRAL, as a government entity, on its position to grow the construction and engineering sectors. Each year, this MoU will create an environment that attracts new entrants, especially black contractors who will create much-needed jobs for thousands of people.”
In discussion with the MEC, Goosen addressed the need for support and closer co-operation between the sector and government to realize the full benefits of ‘buy local’ and explore opportunities to further funding solutions for contractors awarded contracts.
“We found the MEC’s visit beneficial, providing a good understanding of Bell Equipment as a South Africa company and the importance of supporting and buying local. We design, manufacture, distribute and support premium products and, while our operation has a massive impact on the economy, it is important to realize that this can only be sustained with the support of our customers and Government,” commented Goosen.