In the build up to Coatings For Africa Conference we spoke Deryck Spence, Executive Director at SAPMA about his thoughts on the challenges affecting the region’s coatings sector and reasons to be positive about 2018 and beyond:
The past 18 months have been difficult for the industry as a result of fluctuating currency problems resulting from political uncertainty and downgrades by financial institutions and influencing raw material costs. This lack of confidence has affected industry across the board and resulted in at best stagnated sales and declines in the building industry and decorative markets.
Apart from the above lack of confidence and hesitance of large scale investment in the Industry, the decision of the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS to curtail the testing of products to the SANS standards (South African National Standard) has created difficulties in specific markets i.e. Road marking.
There has been an ongoing move from solvent-based products to water-based products and although interest has been shown in the development of VOC products, the progress has been thwarted by the lack of SABS standards being set for VOC specifications. The reaction of the market is to import accredited components from Europe and elsewhere and assemble VOC products locally.
2018 has heralded, with the resignation of the previous State President, a level of optimism and expectation with the inauguration of Cyril Ramaphosa, the newly elected President. Optimism is somewhat clouded however, by the Legislation of Land confiscation without compensation, which in the long run will reduce the levels of foreign investment in SA. Another challenge facing the industry is the SA Government’s decision to open free trade barriers and remove import duties from African countries, notwithstanding the fact, that South Africa is the only country in Africa with Legislation restricting the use of Lead in Paint (90ppm by 2019, presently 600ppm) and presenting complications of imports of paints form African and Asian Countries who do not have lead restriction legislation.