The Deputy Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition, Ms Nomalungelo Gina, says  government plans to strengthen and deepen the localisation of furniture as part of efforts to expedite the growth of the industry.

She was addressing delegates at the Buy Local Summit held at the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) in Sandton, Johannesburg, at a session held to announce winners of the department’s 8th Furniture Design Competition.  The competition is a partnership of the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (the dtic), the South African Furniture Initiative (SAFI), Proudly South African and industry stakeholders.

Some of the key objectives of the competition are to contribute towards skills development, attract designers into the industry, and to promote product development and differentiation using design as a critical tool.  The furniture industry is an important sector in the South African economy, as it one of the most labour-intensive industries with a potential to contribute to the reduction of unemployment, increase exports and develop Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMME).

Speaking at the event, Deputy Minister Gina said as part of the Re-imagined Industry Strategy (RIS) government has developed sector master plans to help create an enabling environment for industries to grow and the furniture industry is one of the industries that has been prioritised under Public Private Growth Initiative (PPGI) to stimulate investment, grow the economy and to create more jobs for the citizens of South Africa.

“During the consultative process when the masterplan of the furniture industry was developed, one of the striking factors that became so apparent in all the provinces that were visited was the absence of the black designers and manufacturers in the system, despite the fact that the industry is beleaguered and almost down to its knees. Our commitment is that the rebuilding of the industry will have to be inclusive, accommodative of those township designers and manufacturers so that it expands to some levels that are beyond our reach. The coming into place of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement provides an opportunity for this industry to export and dominate the African market. We will have to be deliberate in positioning ourselves in this regard,” said Gina.

There were two main categories in the competition namely; Student and Manufacturers.  Mr Sibusiso Mwandla from the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) was announced as the winner in the Student category and the Inside Earthworld Interiors (represented by Ms Laurika Brummer) as the winner in the Manufacturers category.  A Judges Special Award, which is a new category added this year went to Ms Thlologello Sesana of Sesana-Sesana Studios.

Gina added that design could be used as a creative instrument that will link the industry players’ creativity and innovative products.

“Design can also play a significant role in industry development and beneficiation of raw materials. It is thus possible to position the local industry as the producer of high value niche furniture products that are globally competitive based on quality and/or differentiated designs. Like the effective implementation of the master plan, this requires a partnership between the public and private sector to develop programmes that address the challenges that constrain the industry from achieving the potential growth levels and significantly raise the levels of competitiveness,” she said.

Bongani Lukhele – Director: Media Relations
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Issued by: The Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (the dtic)
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