As we approach the end of 2017, it is with a sense of satisfaction that we can look back on a year that has in many respects been challenging, but positive.
We know that too many of our members will be entering 2018 a little damper; burdened with the uncertainties of uneven business growth, slow job creation, rising costs and an unclear outlook for the future. I encourage every member to be optimistic about what lies ahead, to embrace the opportunities before our businesses.
South Africa’s finance minister Malusi Gigaba reduced the country’s growth forecasts for this year to 0.7% from 1.3% earlier. The recent downgrade might lead to a further reduction in foreign direct investment and investors fleeing the country.
South Africa's unemployment rate came in at 27.7% in the third quarter of 2017, same as the previous quarter. Moreover, the country has been going through immense political turmoil. President Jacob Zuma was under scrutiny for maintaining illegal ties with the Gupta family and the firing of finance minister Pravin Gordhan.
The markets will be closely watching African National Congress (ANC’s) electives conference in December and the 2018 budget. Investors will be eyeing the party’s response to recent events and tackling of the economic situation being faced by the country.
Construction Industry trends
A closer look at the construction industry reveals longer-term average growth rates that are in negative territory.
Between January to September 2017, the value of recorded building plans passed at current price decreased by 4, 1% compared with January to September 2016.
Being a leading indicator, this will no doubt translate into less buildings being completed over the next 12-18 months. There are still pockets of growth in certain segments and provinces, but these areas are becoming more difficult to find. Nationally these statistics paint a challenging picture for private building going forward.
I urge you CBA members not to let the political gridlock and economic uncertainty dissuade your business from opportunity. CBA have a proud history of overcoming all obstacles to achieve success. We've done it before and we will do it again.
The year in review
In June 2017 we bit farewell to the team from Swisscontact. It was a fitting finale for the 8-year Energy Efficient Clay Brick (EECB) Project, a Swiss-funded environmental sustainability and climate change initiative for South Africa.
The project has had a major impact on the energy-efficiency of the brick-making industry, which is heavily reliant on fossil fuels like coal. The EECB brought together the skills and experience of entrepreneurs, environmental specialists, consultants, government and brick-makers to expand local knowledge raise awareness and build capacity with regard to low carbon technologies and best practice.
The project exceeded its objectives by successfully facilitating a 15% reduction in energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions in the last 4 years.
The EECB project will continue its good work under the direction of the CBA. As an industry, we are committed to make good use of the wealth of research done by the EECB team to improve the energy efficiency of clay brick manufacturing processes. CBA will continue their work into the future as we reduce our industry’s carbon footprint and emissions for the good of all South African communities.
Looking to the future
Our future as an industry will always be brighter when we embrace innovation and change. When the CBA was established some 54 years ago, radio was just catching on and feature length movies were in their infancy. Today talented young software engineers rapidly change the way we interact, market and operate our businesses. We must welcome, not lament the changes in the business world.
To At Coetzee, Marnie Bezuidenhout, Mariana Lamont and Nico Mienie I appreciate all of your great work this year; it is because of you, and because we know we can do so much more for members than anyone else, that I have such great confidence in the future of the CBA, Thank you.
To our members and directors, please enjoy some well-deserved rest with family and friends during this holiday season, and let’s get right back to it in 2018