Jaywant Irkhede, Director of the leather and footwear section within the South African Department of Trade and Industry (the dti), and Thabo Sepuru, Senior Manager of materials technology laboratories at the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS), spent a number of days at SATRA. During the visit, they met with several of the organisation’s technical and manufacturing experts.

Irkhede gave a presentation which explained the current status of South African footwear and leather production, and highlighted the dti’s goals for a dramatic improvement in manufacturing capability and global competitiveness over the next five years.

The South African government established a new Directorate of Leather and Footwear in 2011 in order to develop sectors that were facing stagnation, continued job losses and an increasing trade deficit. Dr Rob Davies, the South African Government’s Minister for trade and industry, recently commented that domestic market share and export levels were low, as was investment and adoption of the latest technology. In addition, raw leather resources were said to be under-utilised. Responding to the situation, Dr Davies announced that his department would ‘spare no effort’ in supporting the leather and footwear industries in South Africa. In line with this, the dti is to invest some R290 million ($26.2 million) through its Competitive Improvement Programme to enhance the competitiveness of the country’s footwear and leather industries by establishing a number of business clusters, including the NFLC.

SATRA is a leading authority on international legislation and testing, and the technical aspects of a wide range of consumer products including footwear, leather goods, apparel, toys, safety products, furniture, floorcoverings, construction products, and homeware.