Design skills are key to the implementation of the Furniture Industry Masterplan. To this end, the annual national Furniture Design Competition organised by the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (the dtic) will remain key to the sector. This was said by the Deputy Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition, Ms Nomalungelo Gina. She was delivering a keynote address during the prize-giving ceremony of the national competition which was  held virtually.

A design by the University of Johannesburg students, Amukelani Mathebula, Michael Sushan and Mikhayla Peterson,  and KwaZulu-Natal company, Homewood romped home with top honours in the Students and Manufacturers categories, respectively. The theme of the 7th edition of the competition was “This is Mine and These are Ours”.

“Design skills are key to the implementation of the Furniture Industry Masterplan, hence the Furniture Design Competition will remain key to the sector. Through this competition, we intend to deepen the partnerships and widen the skills pool available to the manufacturers. Design can be used as a creative instrument that will link the industry players’ creativity and innovative products,” said Gina.

She added that design could  also play a significant role in the development of the furniture industry and the beneficiation of raw materials.

“It is thus possible to position the local furniture industry as the producer of high-value niche furniture products that are globally competitive based on quality and differentiated designs. This requires a concerted effort on the part of the public and private sectors to develop programmes that address the challenges that constrain the industry from achieving the potential growth levels and significantly raise the levels of competitiveness,” added Gina.

She emphasised that the Furniture Industry Master Plan would be meaningless if it did not emphasise clearly, with bold targets, the incorporation of furniture designers and manufacturing in the country’s townships and rural areas.

“We have many furniture manufacturers in makeshift workshops struggling to grow because of no visible support. We have a growing number of youth that is making furniture in their backyards. This mission of reviving the industry must go hand in hand with black empowerment, beyond just academic exercise,” said Gina.

The objectives of the Furniture Industry Master Plan include protecting the industry against low-cost imports, replacing imports with local production, increasing sales of locally produced furniture to retailers and to the State, supporting SMMEs along the value-chain by improving access to funding for competitiveness improvement, and upgrading skills for current and future needs.

Gina also described the South African Furniture Industry as an important sector in the South African economy.

“It is one of the most labour-intensive industries, with a potential to contribute to the reduction in unemployment, increase in exports and the development of the Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMME).  It contributes to geographic spread of economic activity since products can be produced in rural areas with minimal investment,” stressed Gina.

Sidwell Medupe-Departmental Spokesperson
Tel: (012) 394 1650
Mobile: 079 492 1774
Issued by: The Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (the dtic)
Follow us on Twitter: @the_dti

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