Sector Overview

Introduction

The South African electrotechnical industry is made up of a large number of technical industries including IT, communication, electronic and electrical manufacturing. Each of these is made up of various subsectors with their own areas of specialisation. However, they have in common a high level of technological and knowledge application with a significant value addition to the South African economy.

Power (Electrical) Engineering

This subsector includes transformers, cables, switchgear, metering, substations and Renewable Energy Solutions.

Electronics

This subsector (consumer and defence electronics) includes military, aerospace, automotive subsystems, access control and security equipment as well as white good (e.g. tv's and fridges).

Information Communication and Digital Technology

This subsector includes software, hardware, artificial intelligence, IoT, big data and blockchain.

The Sector Desk

The focus of the sector desk in the Industrial Competitiveness and Growth division is on supporting the development of the manufacturing of the products and components in the relevant industry subsectors.

The sector has an important role to play in the South African economy because of its direct and indirect contribution to high value production and highly skilled employment, as well as its contribution to increasing the competitiveness and value-add of related subsectors such as the automotive, defence, power generation, power distribution and aerospace. 

There is also an internal interdependence within the sector, with outputs of one subsector providing inputs or complementary services to other parts. The sector is an important global sector that is likely to represent significant future growth opportunities.

The future development of the local Electrotechnical industry is dependant on its adapting continuously to new technology applications and market opportunities, growing exports and manufacturers securing large contracts in public, private and multilateral markets.

Objectives of the Directorate

The work done includes developing and reviewing sector strategies and action plans, monitoring progress on implementation and continuously engaging stakeholders to strengthen the ability of the sector to create employment, retain existing jobs and increase value addition and competitiveness in both domestic and export markets. In addition, the purpose is to address various Industry challenges and to take advantage of opportunities that arise.

Transformation is central to the work of the directorate as most of the subsectors require it. This is done through convening and chairing various fora which have been established in partnership with the industry. Currently the existing fora include the Cables forum, the White Goods Manufacturers forum and the metering forum. We continually conduct research in house and on an outsourced basis and partner with Industry Associations and export Councils on initiatives to grow and protect the local manufacturing industry.

The objective is also to support the development of both human and technological capabilities by the industry and enhance the competitiveness of the sector to contribute to economic growth, employment creation and transformation. This includes:

Key focus areas for the next three years

Building on past achievements, the directorate will prioritise the following:

Importance of the SAEEC

The South African Electrotechnical Export Council represents a wide range of companies producing a very wide range of products. The companies and products have a large degree of overlap, both within the overall sector itself as well as providing critical inputs into the manufacture and functionality of a wide range of products in other sectors as well. As such, it is a very important part of South Africa’s overall manufacturing and industrial sector.

Important Statistics

The South African Electrotechnical sector has a local value of US$58 billion and employs around 280,000 people (2017 study by Analytix for the dti-Electrotechnical Sector Desk). The sector comprises electrical engineering, electronics, information technology and telecommunications. The sector covers a diverse range of products and services that each contributes directly to the sector itself as well as the broader manufacturing and value-added technology sector in South Africa. The dtic estimates that the industry contributes in the region of 12,5% to South African gross domestic product (GDP).

Power (Electrical) Engineering

This sub sector comprises solution providers (goods and related engineering services) for electricity infrastructure covering generation, transmission and distribution. South Africa has significant local production facilities and extensive project and product design experience that can be utilised for African markets.

Electronics

This sub-sector primarily comprises companies involved in the design, development, and manufacture and testing of electronic products and subsystems. At a primary manufacturer level or as a subcontractor to local and international firms. Industries involved include inter alia medical, transport, power, security, avionics, process control, instrumentation, defence and consumer electronics.

South African companies have a proven capability to develop innovative solutions and have developed customised embedded software and electronic solutions for leading international firms.

Information Communications and Digital Technology

South Africa’s IT industry has for a long time been characterised by large international suppliers that were suppliers of hardware (e.g., IBM, Dell, Lenovo, Cisco) or software (SAP, Oracle, Microsoft). In recent years there has been convergence between the IT and telecommunications industries which has resulted in a shift away from the traditional hardware and software markets to a services market. The Internet of Things (IOT), Cloud Computing and Big Data are the main drivers behind the convergence.

South African companies are looking at the rest of Africa as a key market, especially for trade in value-added products that will form part of the Fourth Industrial Revolution value chains.