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Motor cluster will drive change

first_imgNew Mercedes-Benz cars await export on the docks of the harbour, below the factory. (Image: MediaClubSouthAfrica.com. For more free photos, visit the image library) MEDIA CONTACTS • Nomsa Mbovani  ECSECC corporate affairs manager  +27 43 701 3400 RELATED ARTICLES • Automotive boost for Eastern Cape • Two-billion reasons Mercedes chose SA • Motor industry, government talk jobs • SA’s auto industry to turn greenEmily van RijswijckThe Eastern Cape province opened another chapter in its ongoing efforts to improve its regional competitiveness and increase job creation with the formal launch of a dedicated automotive cluster.The cluster will be represented by industry, government and labour.The cluster agreement was signed by Volkswagen Group South Africa, the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (Naamsa), Mercedes-Benz, General Motors South Africa, the Ford Motor Company of South Africa, the authority of the automotive parts industry (Naacam), the National Union of Metalworkers, Transnet, Eskom, the Department of Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism, the Buffalo City Municipality and the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality.The minister of Trade and Industry, Rob Davis, was on hand to get the initiative under way at the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro on 19 March, just days after the grand opening of the Port of Ngqura outside Port Elizabeth.At the Ngqura launch President Jacob Zuma reiterated the government’s commitment to bringing the Eastern Cape into the economic fold.The province has three ports, each of which plays a critical role in the import and export of vehicles and parts to partners locally and overseas. The Port of Ngqura is already Africa’s major transhipment hub, while the ports of Port Elizabeth and East London continue to focus on clean cargo and automotive exports.Industry’s changing face A robust automotive sector plays an essential role in maintaining the overall health of the province, allowing it to stay internationally competitive, said Andrew Murray, executive director of the Eastern Cape Socio-Economic Consultative Council.“If the industry sneezes, the whole Eastern Cape gets a cold.”The council acts as a link between the government and relevant players in the province and, until now, has been the cluster facilitator. In time, the industry itself will take over the reins.The numbers speak for themselves. With 50% of the country’s vehicles manufactured in the province the Eastern Cape is understandably seen as the automotive heart of South Africa.Four of the country’s seven original export manufacturers are based in the province. They are Volkswagen South Africa (VWSA) in Uitenhage, Ford South Africa and General Motors South Africa in Port Elizabeth and Mercedes-Benz in Buffalo City. The sector employs 40 000 workers in 1 500 companies.Globally the automotive sector is in transition and this will bring both threats and opportunities, Murray said. “If we don’t reassess this sector we are going to be found wanting.”This is where the cluster will play an important role, creating a platform for more coordinated efforts and a better aligned industry to face the global challenges, he believes. There will also be regional spin-offs.“The cluster will address the issue of regional competitiveness which will also have positive spin-offs for the rest of the Eastern Cape economy.”The overall objective of the cluster is to maximise job creation, market share and productivity levels, said Murray. Initial efforts will focus on improving logistics, building the skills base of the labour market and assisting with supplier development.It is hoped that the Eastern Cape cluster will tap into the experiences of the Durban Automotive Cluster, a successful initiative which was started in eThekwini in 2002,.In pure numbers South Africa’s automotive industry hardly makes a dent in global markets. With an output of less than 1% of it is considered to be uncompetitive in global terms.Despite this, major opportunities still exist, Murray said – they include emerging African markets as well as markets in South Africa and, more importantly, the Eastern Cape’s strategic location as a transhipment hub, linking the Americas with South East Asia.    Focus areasThe government and Eastern Cape industry partners started talks about forming a cluster almost a year ago.The need to do so became apparent with the introduction of the Automotive Production Development Plan (APDP), which came into effect in 2008. This scheme replaced the Motor Industry Development Programme in order for the sector to fall in line with the trade and tariffs requirements of the World Trade Organisation.The APDP has shifted the emphasis away from export incentives to production and local manufacturing incentives.In terms of logistics, the cluster will look at improving efficiency in the movement of goods and services within South Africa and to global markets.As for skills, an alarming trend perceived in the global automotive industry is the shift away from semi-skilled and unskilled labour to a workforce of highly skilled individuals with sophisticated technical proficiency, Murray said.“These jobs are disappearing, which means the cluster will need to focus on re-skilling, ongoing training and up-scaling apprenticeship programmes.”In pursuit of this aim the cluster will embark on a full-scale needs and skills audit and in time hopes to create a centre of excellence in research and development with the help of the province’s tertiary institutions. This should contribute to addressing the skills shortages in the industry.Suppliers form the backbone of the motor industry. The province has about 80 component manufacturers, which have to help keep the wheels turning by supplying the automotive manufacturers with components that meet international standards.They face their own unique challenges, including access to finance, rising production costs and the availability of raw materials. The cluster will seek to nurture and improve local suppliers by creating various enabling platforms, said Murray.Cluster welcomed The launch of a cluster does not come a moment too soon, industry leaders and cluster partners all agree.  David Powels, straight-talking MD of VWSA and chairperson of Naamsa, said the industry has never faced greater challenges. Despite the fact that last year VWSA broke its production record by 137 000 units there was an urgent need for a dramatic improvement in productivity in the industry. In 2011 VWSA celebrated 60 years in the Eastern Cape and currently produces about 70% of local content. Powels believes the cluster has the potential to make the Eastern Cape more productive and efficient.“The industry has to dramatically improve its competitiveness to be able to compete against low-cost products coming out of low-cost countries. We fully support this effort and will put a great amount of energy, power and support into this,” Powels said.General Motors communications manager Denise van Huyssteen said the company will be an active partner in the initiative. General Motors has been in South Africa since 1926 and continues to invest heavily in the industry, having spent R130-million on skills transfer in the past five years to make the industry more competitive.“We are committed to the Eastern Cape and support the establishment of an environment that is conducive to sustainable economic growth; one that serves as a platform to create jobs and social prosperity.”last_img read more

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With season winding down, Knicks avoid new franchise low for wins

first_imgBoylen took over for Fred Hoiberg, who was fired in December. He said he came to understand the stress of being an NBA coach. “I learned that when you become the head coach, you don’t sleep as well. I learned that when you become the head coach it’s your responsibility to coach every guy regardless of his past, or his salary or whatever as hard as you can. And that’s what I’m trying to do,” Boylen said.UP NEXTKnicks: Finish the season Wednesday night by hosting a Pistons team that’s trying to hold off Charlotte for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot.Bulls: At Philadelphia on Wednesday night to conclude their season. The 76ers are locked into the No. 3 spot in the East playoff bracket.Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Duterte wants probe of SEA Games mess Cayetano: Senate, Drilon to be blamed for SEA Games mess June Mar Fajardo close to 6th PBA Best Player award SEA Games hosting troubles anger Duterte Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games PLAY LIST 02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games02:11Trump awards medals to Jon Voight, Alison Krauss Private companies step in to help SEA Games hosting Hontiveros presses for security audit of national power grid Ryan Arcidiacono led the Bulls (22-59) with 14 points and Shaquille Harrison added 13.Smith scored 19 points in the first half and Knox added 11 as the Knicks led by as many as 20 in the first quarter.The Bulls cut into the lead late in the second quarter. They trailed 57-50 at halftime.For the second straight game, Smith played with a sore lower back. He was originally slated to come off the bench, but that changed when guard Mario Hezonja came down with an illness and was a late scratch.Smith showed no sign of pain.“That’s the thing, it’s just the only way that I know. I just go hard, that’s all I know,” Smith said.TIP-INSKnicks: Fizdale wasn’t sure if G Kadeem Allen, who is out with a concussion, will be available for the finale. … G Allonzo Trier missed the game with a strained left calf. … G Emmanuel Mudiay was ruled out for the final two games because of a sore left shoulder.Bulls: Zach LaVine (bruised right thigh, right knee tendinitis), Kris Dunn (strained back), and Otto Porter Jr. (right rotator cuff), didn’t suit. … Before the game, Dunn admitted he struggled to find his role with the Bulls this season. “I guess you can say that. Earlier in the season I was being aggressive. I kind of defer away from Lauri (Markkanen) a little bit, kind of sacrifice my role to see how it went. … It allowed me to figure out who I was as a player. That’s to be aggressive,” Dunn said.LEARNING ON THE JOB “It’s a playoff game. The fact that a young team, we only have so many wins and we have an opportunity to play in a playoff game, I think it’s an incredible opportunity for us. I want to see us rise to the challenge,” Fizdale said. “It’s not as much about trying to spoil someone else’s dream as much as it us trying to achieve ours.”The Bulls, meanwhile, lost for the 32nd time at United Center this season, a franchise record. Chicago’s previous worst home season was in 2000-01.“I feel for the fans and I’m disappointed for the fans that we didn’t play better at home, and we have to fix that. We’re going to talk to the team about it. We got to honor our home court better next year,” Bulls coach Jim Boylen said. “We need to have a winning record at home. We have to establish that. We’re going to do everything we can to do that.”The Knicks, who led by as many as 20 against a depleted Bulls lineup, needed a late 5-0 run to pull away. Smith hit a pair of free throws and Damyean Dotson made a 3 to put the Knicks up 89-79 with 2:42 left.Kevin Knox added 17 points and 10 rebounds and Dotson finished with 12.ADVERTISEMENT Philippine Arena Interchange inaugurated Panelo: Duterte ‘angry’ with SEA Games hosting hassles DA eyes importing ‘galunggong’ anew New York Knicks guard John Jenkins reacts after scoring against the Chicago Bulls during the second half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, April 9, 2019, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski)CHICAGO — With an embarrassing predicament in sight, Knicks coach David Fizdale implored his team to treat the end of another lost season like a playoff series.The Knicks responded, escaping the possibility off finishing with their worst-ever record by beating the Chicago Bulls 96-86 on Tuesday night. Dennis Smith Jr. scored 25 points and Mitchell Robinson added eight points and 17 rebounds for New York.ADVERTISEMENT LATEST STORIES MOST READ With one game remaining, the Knicks (17-64) can only tie for the worst season in franchise history. A loss to the Detroit Pistons, who are seeking to lock up a playoff spot, would give New York a record matching only its ugly 2014-15 campaign.“Our guys really wanted this game. I issued a challenge to them with seven games to go, just kind of look at how the season was coming down and it kind of played out like a playoff series, so I challenged them to use this as our playoffs, seven games and we got down 0-1, we ended up down 1-3 and now we’ve won two in a row to have a home-court Game 7 on our court,” Fizdale said. “I’m really trying to train their minds on what you have to do to be a team that plays in the playoffs. They really took the challenge and really wanted to win this game.”FEATURED STORIESSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSPalace wants Cayetano’s PHISGOC Foundation probed over corruption chargesSPORTSSingapore latest to raise issue on SEA Games food, logisticsNew York, which had already secured the NBA’s worst record and a draft position no worse than fifth, won back-to-back games for the first time since late February.The Knicks will face a plenty motivated Pistons team on Wednesday. View commentslast_img read more

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