Exports key to East Cape’s economic recovery

At the handing over of the Exporter of the Year Awards’ certificates and trophies this week are, from left, Exporters EC chair Quintin Levey, S4 Development Services software engineer (development strategy lead) Meggan Naudé, S4 software engineer (quality lead) Elana Blom, S4 software engineer (office manager) Ntombenkosi Yokwana, S4 software engineer (development manager) Ashley Els, Transnet National Ports Authority Port of Ngqura port manager Tandi Lebakeng and Volkswagen Group SA division head of purchasing Thomas Bindseil
EFFORTS REWARDED: At the  handing over of the Exporter of the Year Awards’ certificates and trophies this week are, from left,  Exporters EC chair Quintin Levey, S4 Development Services software engineer (development strategy lead) Meggan Naudé, S4  software engineer (quality lead) Elana Blom, S4  software engineer (office manager) Ntombenkosi Yokwana, S4 software engineer (development manager) Ashley Els, Transnet National Ports Authority Port of Ngqura port manager Tandi Lebakeng and Volkswagen Group SA  division head of purchasing Thomas Bindseil
Image: Supplied

Despite the effects of Covid-19 on the local economy, a robust recovery is possible through the combined efforts of all role players in the Eastern Cape export industry.   

Speaking at Exporters Eastern Cape Exporter of the Year online awards, Transnet National Port Authority acting CEO Captain Rufus Lekala said on average a 20% reduction in freight volumes had been experienced across Transnet due to the pandemic and the lockdown.

“While this period has been very disruptive, especially to our port operations, we have embedded the ‘new normal’ practices across our port system.

“It is going to be a tough road ahead to recover and rebuild, but I am certain that we can all come together to position the Eastern Cape province as a global player and market leader,”  Lekala said.

He commended Exporters EC for making it possible to continue the proud tradition of honouring the province’s best exporters with the Exporter of the Year Awards.

“You all play a critical role in growing our country’s economy.

“And I am certain that this role will be further heightened as we seek to recover from the devastating impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on our economy,” Lekala said.

Port of Port Elizabeth port manager Rajesh Dana also congratulated Exporters EC on behalf of Transnet, the platinum sponsor for the Exporter of the Year Awards Ceremony, for hosting the 25th awards ceremony on Friday last week.

“The economic recovery from Covid-19 will take a united and extraordinary effort from all South Africans.

“This will entail among others integrated, cost-effective, and efficient export of South African goods and services.

“To this end, exporters and logistic service providers will play a critical role.

“Transnet congratulates all the award winners and looks forward to partnering and collaborating with them to catalyse the economic recovery of the Eastern Cape and SA,”  Dana said.

The award for the Overall Exporter of the Year 2020 went to S4 Development Services, which  achieved a turnover growth of 71% in the period under review.

S4 Development Services marketing manager Gideon Smith said winning the award was “unexpected, but a privilege to receive such a prestigious award”.

“We’ve seen the bulk of our growth stemming from connected vehicle projects using the Microsoft Azure Connected Vehicle Platform, in areas of smart content delivery to automotive service centres.

“We also experienced additional demand for capacity in our existing areas of operation with a focus on manufacturing software solutions.

“Our continual commitment to delivering value and quality to our partners is paying dividend with S4 being able to expand and create additional permanent positions in our company,”  Smith said.

While the proudly Port Elizabeth company was in the first half of 2020 able to secure a long-term contract for development and application support with a major manufacturer that added nine full-time positions, they were not unaffected by Covid-19.

“The pandemic has certainly had a major impact on our plans, and we are very fortunate to have continued operating almost normally thus far.

“There is a lot of uncertainty about the immediate future, however, we remain positive.

“Looking towards 2021 we are slowly but surely seeing an increase in demand once more and we will hopefully be in a position to add more people to our growing family soon,”  Smith said.

Smith said many companies across the world had to rethink their strategy and embrace technology and new ways of working to remain relevant and competitive in the marketplace.

“We believe that the Covid-19 pandemic has helped many firms, out of necessity, overcome the fear of adopting new technologies into their day-to-day work and we believe that it may catalyse the adoption of more 4IR related technologies.

“As wonderful as all the technology is, the pandemic has once again reminded us of the importance of the human factor.

“Without a team of dedicated people to work with you through the challenging times, you will not succeed,”  Smith said.

S4 Development Services was the overall winner of the Exporter of the Year Awards, as well as the recipient of the IDC Job Creation Merit Award and the Best Exporter Medium Enterprise Winner.

Sponsors of the 2020 Exporter of the Year Awards included Transnet (Platinum Sponsor), Volkswagen Group SA (Gold Sponsor), Oracle Media (Gold Sponsor), the Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber (Silver Sponsor), the Industrial Development Corporation (Bronze Sponsor), and Magnetic Storm (Bronze Sponsor).

The media sponsors for the awards were The Herald and Kingfisher FM.

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