South Africa signs plan to support R600 billion steel industry

South Africa has signed a plan to support the country’s steel industry, the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition has said.

The Steel and Metal Fabrication Master Plan agreed by the government and stakeholders in the industry that contributes R600 billion to GDP “provides a blueprint for the industry to re-energise itself and expand production,” the department said in a statement posted on its website.

The plan comprises six priority areas, including addressing supply and demand-side measures and agreements related to the African Continental Free Trade Area, the world’s biggest free-trade zone, the department said without giving details. An oversight council made up of 35 members of industry, labour groups and public sector officials has been set up to drive its implementation, it said.

The master plan for the steel and metal fabrication sector – an initiative by regulators, industry and labour – outlines steps to re-energise the sector and expand production, the ministry said.

South Africa is one of the largest steel producers on the African continent. South Africa’s only steel producer is ArcelorMittal South Africa, which is majority-owned by Luxembourg-based ArcelorMittal.

The industry has faced mounting pressure with fewer local infrastructure projects, high input costs and global price competition.

“The signing of the master plan sets the foundation and commitment for the development and growth of this important sector,” the ministry said in a statement.

The plan’s priorities include addressing demand and supply, the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA) and a steel fund to support industry projects.