Pretoria - South Africa's future depends greatly on manufacturing and as such, it must do all it can to shore up this vital industry, says Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies.
"We have identified as government, through the New Growth Path and the Industrial Policy Action Plan, that the future of our country depends on us strengthening ourselves as a manufacturing economy.
"We need to make the transition where we move incrementally from being a producer and exporter of primary products, to becoming increasingly producers of value-added products. The automotive industry is the key example where this is taking place," said Davies.
Speaking at the South Africa Automotive Week gala dinner in Port Elizabeth on Wednesday, the minister said there was consensus among stakeholders, including industry and labour, that the target of 1.2 million units of vehicles to be produced per year by 2020, set by the new automotive development programme, was achievable.
The Motor Industry Development Programme (MIDP), which has been in existence since 1995, will come to an end and will be replaced by the Automotive Production and Development Programme (APDP) from January 2013.
The MIDP has had important achievements, including the increase in production of vehicles from under 400 000 units a year to more than 600 000 in 2006 and half a million in 2011 - a dip attributable to global economic recession.
"As government, we are looking for that growth to be matched by a growth in component manufacturing where we can create a number of opportunities for small enterprises; working with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs); increasing where we can ... black owned SMMEs participating in the automotive industry as suppliers, where we can see entrepreneurs with real skills, real capacities and real abilities to play a meaningful role as industrialists in our country," said Davies.