From the editor's desk: Power to the people, pretty please

EMP Handbook 2015 News

It seems to me that those with the least power are usually the most desperate to take every opportunity to exploit it. And so I sit now, of a summer evening, with no power at all thanks to Eskom. Typing these words to the last gasps of my laptop computer’s battery, fully armed and willing to use what little power my words carry to fulfil an oath I made to take my revenge upon Eskom for the power interruptions that have afflicted my workflow these past few days. So there!

I do this not for myself (maybe just a little) but for you, loyal reader, in protest of your lost productivity. After all, while power outages are little more than an inconvenience to me, they can do serious damage to a business’s bottom line and, by extension in this tough economic climate, even its ability to survive.

Another disappointment the electronics manufacturing industry suffered was as a result of the abject failure by the new Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services (DTPS) to put an end once and for all to the uncertainty surrounding South Africa’s digital TV migration policy, and support the local sector by allowing them to start making the set-top boxes already.

Or perhaps it has sorted everything out but forgot to tell anyone. Maybe it was the responsibility of the Department of Communications (DoC) to disseminate the news but the memo went missing somewhere along its journey between the two offices. You know the DoC, right? The new one that inherited the old name of the other department, despite having a vastly different remit? The one that’s now in charge of ICASA?

No wait, my bad! – the latest news is that ICASA now falls under both of those departments simultaneously, while ironically retaining its name as the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa. Whatever criticisms I have of President Jacob Zuma, I can’t help but admire the man’s sense of humour.

Unfortunately those were far from the only challenges to face local electronics manufacturing. The protracted strike action instigated by Numsa in the middle of the year cost the economy badly, but even more tragic is that it cost many of Numsa’s members their jobs.

Then there was the announcement that Samsung would be opening a plant in KZN to make TVs. Sounds like quite a coup at first to get this global giant to put its confidence in SA, but it dearly cost the local manufacturers that were previously making Samsung’s TVs under contract.

It’s not all doom and gloom though; far from it. There are some positive signs leading into 2015 that justify some cautious optimism. Indeed, one of the goals of this handbook is to highlight these. As you will discover in the coming pages, there are some exciting things happening at the interface between education and industry. Although those working at the coal face paint a sometimes bleak picture of the employment sector, it is tremendously encouraging to see initiatives coming to the boil that demonstrate commitment – and investment – to put strategies into effect that will reap benefits in the long term.

In short, you’ll find previews of the most important events happening this year; news, views and opinions on where the electronics manufacturing sector is and where it’s going; technical articles covering many aspects of manufacturing processes; and product selection guides for pretty much anything you might need to make your products.

As regular readers of Dataweek will know, this is the first publication of its kind that we have ever produced. We hope you find it to be a valuable resource and enjoy reading it as much as we enjoyed putting it together.

Brett van den Bosch



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