There is unprecedented local and international interest in the third South African Automotive Week (SAAW), which comes at a time when the global auto industry is looking for new markets and sources of supply, says Andrew Binning, SAAW 2012 project director.
“The South African motor industry has put its full support behind South African Automotive Week, and it will host several conferences, match-making appointments and the annual meeting of the National Association of Component and Allied Manufacturers (NAACAM),” Binning said at a briefing in Port Elizabeth following a meeting of the SAAW 2012 task team.
Feedback and the level of interest shown to date point to SAAW 2012 is “twice as big and twice as influential as SAAW 2009”. The initiative is held every two years, but skipped a year due to the Soccer World Cup. The third edition will be held in Port Elizabeth from October 10 to October 13, 2012.
Binning, CEO of Inkanyezi Event Organisers, says a formal presentation on the South African Automotive Week to the Chinese Trade Development Bureau in Beijing at the invitation of the Ministry of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China during July last year was “particularly fruitful”.
“We have commitment that the Chinese presence will be bigger than the previous SAAW. They definitely see Africa as a growth market, and showed some interest in sourcing components and spares from South Africa,” says Binning. The recent announcement by Chinese truck manufacturer FAW to establish a manufacturing plant at Coega was proof of this, Binning said.
There has also been interest from trade groups in Britain where the DTI is arranging an inbound mission to SAAW, Eastern Europe and the East. Agents have been appointed “on every continent” to promote SAAW to industry associations, component manufacturers and embassies and market the South African automotive industry.
SAAW is a combination of a components industry showcase and includes a series of conferences, networking functions and site tours, and has become an important meeting place for the industry.
“There is already much interest in a breakfast conference hosted by the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to share trends and perspectives with the suppliers. One of the breakthroughs of SAAW 2009 was the first-ever informal meeting of key suppliers to all South African based OEMS and the OEM procurement directors.
SAAW 2009 was also one of the first industry events in South Africa to introduce a formal match-making meeting programme. “We helped organise over 300 meetings, and over 11 per cent of exhibitors closed deals worth more than half a million rand each,” he says.
Recognising the value of SAAW, the industry is putting its money into the event in the form of sponsorships of a number of activities and events for SAAW 2012, while the main event is supported by the Eastern Cape Province, MerSETA, Eastern Cape Development Corporation, the Coega Development Corporation, and the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality.
“Seeing the industry put its financial support behind the event is a real milestone. It means that SAAW is being recognised as one of the important dates on the global automotive industry calendar,” says Binning.