The Rhythm Forum (coordinated by the TLIU) is a platform for public-private dialogue. The meetings are attended by government, state owned companies (SOCs) and industry associations to complement the localisation process linked to the supplier development and localisation (SD&L) plans of mainly the SOCs. It aims at linking key buyers, relevant suppliers and technology developers to help facilitate local production and procurement.
This platform is the outcome of the growing commitment of its members, to ensure that opportunities for localisation put forward by SOCs, are maximised for local industry. Attendance by senior representatives from industry associations and government has remained consistently high, at approximately 50 for the past two meetings, which can be seen as a significant measure of this commitment.
Some advances in the way in which the Rhythm forum operates, have been achieved, i.e. the institution of working groups, the so-called functional arm of the Rhythm forum. Working groups meet to discuss and unpack opportunities that are tabled, and then allocate them to various clusters and supplier levels. The clear allocation of tasks and action plans guide these working groups.
Henning Viljoen of TLIU the comments, “Rich information of this nature can be used in discussions with SOCs and their tender partners to promote the process by which local suppliers can be added to the relevant supplier databases.”
Another development has been the decision by the Strategic Infrastructure Programme (SIP) team from Eskom, responsible for SIP 1, 9 and 10, to use the Rhythm forum as a delivery agent. To this end, high-level opportunities (business cases) were presented by the SIP Team of Eskom at the recent Rhythm forum held on 1 October 2014 at the CSIR International Convention Centre. These covered steel pipes, thermoplastic paint, road signs lettering, cooling fans, heat exchangers, pumps and domestic pre-paid meters.
A further development is the active participation of the Department of Trade and Industry’s South African Bureau of Standards, in the verification of designation and local content, through the development of the SATS 1286 of 2011. Its role as a local verification agency for local content targets and thresholds, bodes well for the realisation of localisation in South Africa.
Finally, the critical mass and influence wielded by the Rhythm Forum, and the recognition it enjoys from industry, allows it to elevate local procurement concerns that should be addressed. It has attained the status of a powerful but neutral lobby for the local supplier base.
“The activities of the Rhythm forum are critical for our engagement with industry and state owned enterprises,” confirms Ashley Bhugwandin, manager of the TLIU. “In this way we help to ensure that opportunity alerts are transformed into industry opportunities and activities to drive the competence and competitiveness of our local suppliers.”