Perhaps, some hard facts to motivate the action we’re being asked to realise.
- Looking past a recovered 2 percent annual growth rate, demand forecast will increase to 5.8 million tons per annum by 2020 and more than 7 million tons per annum by 2030. That spells good health for SA’s GDP (gross domestic product) due to the synergy of the steel industry.
- The challenges SA will face if turning to importing steel are highly counterproductive. Long lead times and heavy transport costs are unavoidable given the distance from our nearest steelmaking nations, not to mention the risk of security of supply.
- SA’s steel industry has sub-Saharan Africa’s only primary steelmaking capability. Supplying steel and beneficiated steel products to neighbouring countries makes sense since many of them are growing more than 5% a year.
- SA’s steel industry supports key innovative sectors of the economy, such as renewable energy. It offers tailored products to meet specific requirements for wind towers and solar installations, for e.g. As a result, wind towers are now locally constructed. Alongside that, SA technology has been developed, which has led to a 16% saving on solar installations.
- China has all but blown the steel industry out of the water with its considerably cheaper pricing. That is unfortunate and key industry players have vowed to change SA’s pricing away from the import parity pricing model. Urgent protection of the steel industry in SA is called for. Thousands of big and small downstream steel and engineering businesses use steel to produce structural steel, wire products, packaging and even cars. We believe that their best interests – and their jobs – are at stake.
In summary, as noted by Croucamp, the primary objectives of the SOS campaign were to save the South African steel industry first by creating public awareness of the challenges the industry is facing and then to lobby public support, promote alignment between the primary and downstream industry and to achieve synergy between them.
The SOS theme, he pointed out, promotes the idea that “we are all proud South Africans, and for this reason, we should stand and work together to ensure that we don’t lose our steel industry.”