Chemical Technology Archive

The Chemical and Allied Industries Association (CAIA) gave a presentation on the 5th October 2015 at the Chemicals Management and Land Remediation Summit which took place at the CSIR International Convention Centre in Pretoria from 5-7 October.

Under the theme, ‘Science in Action: Towards the Environmentally Sound Management of Chemicals and Land Remediation’, CAIA presented a summary of the South African chemical industry in 2015.

“The paper unpacked the current constraints, opportunities and strategic considerations faced by the chemical industry in South Africa,” explained Deidré Penfold, Executive Director of CAIA. “This vital industry contributes 2,7 % to the GDP and employs 1,2 % of labour. The performance of the chemical sector exceeds that of the manufacturing sector but, despite this commitment to the economy, more than half of the fine chemicals synthesis plants have shut down, relocations to other countries are taking place and new investments are increasingly being made outside of South Africa. It is currently operating in ‘survival mode’, rather than focusing on strategic, long-term project planning and implementation.

“Some of the constraints that the industry operates under are its market size, the supply of electricity and energy, labour issues, access to feedstocks, the skills shortages, the cost of doing business in South Africa and regulatory stringency and burdens.

“However, there are key opportunities in the African market, where chemical industry exports have grown at 14 % pa since 2000. There is significant economic development in the region and more than 50 % of chemical industry exports from South Africa are to Africa.

“We are also seeing co-operation on energy supply, regional and global harmonisation, the ease of trade and international freight movement and co-operation on training efforts.

“Strategic matters that will affect the development of the industry in the next 10‐20 years must be discussed with stakeholders, including government, to develop a common objective for the industry going forward. These discussions need to take place urgently to ensure that the medium-term success of the industry and its contribution to economic growth, can be assured and a closer, more trusting relationship with government must be fostered, urgently.

“When reviewing the objectives of the Chemicals Management Bill, it is suggested that focus be on:

  • improving compliance monitoring and enforcement across departments and mandates to reduce manipulation of the system, illegal possession and trafficking of chemicals and hazardous wastes, all forms of pollution;
  • improving implementation to reduce improper management of chemicals;
  • improving coordination to reduce any fragmentation of regulatory frameworks - different mandates across government departments are however required (health, labour, water and sanitations, trade and industry, economic development, international relations);
  • reviewing existing legislation to provide clear, distinct mandates.


CAIA is a member of the International Council of Chemical Associations (ICCA), the worldwide voice of the chemical industry, representing chemical manufacturers and producers all over the world and is recognised by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

These international alliances allow the Association to source best practice in training, information, advocacy and legislative compliance.


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