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RATE IT | Money is tight, but here’s why minister Ebrahim Patel wants you to buy local

Kyle Zeeman Digital Editor
Minister of trade, industry and competition Ebrahim Patel has encouraged South Africans to buy local.
Minister of trade, industry and competition Ebrahim Patel has encouraged South Africans to buy local.
Image: :Freddy Mavunda © Business Day

As the cost of living crisis worsens and many look for alternatives to their favourite brands, minister of trade, industry and competition Ebrahim Patel has encouraged South Africans to give local products a try.

Manufacturers, producers, buyers, enterprise development agencies and government officials are meeting this week at the Proudly South African Buy Local Summit in Sandton, Johannesburg, to discuss the state of SA's economy and encourage local investment.

Speaking to TimesLIVE on the sidelines of the conference, Patel said there were several reasons for South Africans to buy local products. Let us know if you think the reasons are good enough.


Patel said there were two ways to deal with the unemployment crisis and poverty. The first was to provide grants and the other to create job opportunities. He said buying local products created jobs.

“The Buy Local campaign is an opportunity to shift consumer spending and create more jobs in SA.”


Patel said the Covid-19 pandemic had taught SA an important lesson on the need to produce and buy local.

He praised SA businesses for producing health and safety-compliant goods in response to the pandemic and said some of these were even exported.

Patel said by investing in SA products, outside factors such as a pandemic or wars overseas would affect us less.

“To avoid vulnerability when global supply chains are under strain, you need to have a strong local capability.”


He said the economy and standard of living would improve if SA went beyond just providing raw materials.

“You are not going to be able to achieve a rise in living standards if you remain at the bottom end of the value chain, simply as producers of agricultural products and mining commodities.”

He added that simply being a provider of materials meant the economy was open to factors beyond its control, and markups were small.

“We import more than R1-trillion worth of non-oil products. Not all of those need to be localised, not all of them can be localised, and the goal is not 100% localisation, but it is to add value within the SA economy.”

We have something to offer the world, and should be proud of it

Patel said SA had a lot to offer the world, and we should be proud to support our own.

“It is part of a nation-building programme that we need. Social cohesion is very important, and we lack it sometimes. You build that social cohesion even in your own economy, not only through ideas but through actions.”

He said his department promoted young local entrepreneurs and businesses on the world stage because it believed in the talent and industry they had to make a global difference.

SA products are not inferior

Patel challenged the belief that the quality of SA products are often inferior. 

“Where there are problems we need to address them, but South African products are not only up to world standards but often much better than imported goods. A suit stitched in SA is likely to last you much longer than one imported from China. Cement produced here by SABS standards will be of higher quality than cheaper goods imported unmarked.

"We need to regain confidence in ourselves and our abilities.”

He said he did not want to dismiss valid concerns but government was working to make sure the high standards of SA goods were upheld.

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