Despite the challenges being faced by the manufacturing sector, Absa’s Purchasing Managers’ Index reached a record month-on-month level in March (before the floods), indicating that manufacturing sentiment was buoyant, as we see on page 6. That same month, new car sales reached their highest level since the onset of the pandemic, and the outlook seems tentatively positive for one of the country’s largest manufacturing sectors.
Looking beyond recovery towards growth, on the other hand, local manufacturers urgently need to invest wisely in fourth industrial revolution technologies if they want to remain innovative and competitive on the global market. Innovation is a key pillar of PepsiCo’s Kgodiso Development Fund, which we profile on page 30, and is also needed in the steel sector, prompting the Industrial Development Corporation to create a R1.5-billion downstream development fund to enable growth, competitiveness and greater efficiencies. Considering the key role that getting those metals out of the ground plays in our economy, we also look at the role of chemical manufacturers in the mining sector.
Finally, with the increased focus on health and safety brought about by COVID-19, we examine where South Africa stands in terms of safety, health, environment and quality compliance. After all, you can’t navigate the long and bumpy road to recovery without safe, healthy people at the wheel.