The focus of the global manufacturing industry will be on South Africa next year as representatives of 22 countries meet in Cape Town for the 16th World Conference of the International Special Tooling and Machining Association (ISTMA). Tooling and machining are key constituents in the supply of manufactured goods.  The International Association’s triennial World Conference, General Assembly and constituent meetings of regional groupings ISTMA Europe, Americas, Africa and Asia will coincide with the All Africa Expo and the event will collectively be known as All Africa Expo ISTMA 2023. The Production Technologies Association of South Africa (PtSA), the industry representative body for the tooling manufacturing industry in SA and the only African member association of ISTMA World, will host All Africa Expo ISTMA 2023.

Bob Williamson, President of ISTMA World.

The President of ISTMA World, Bob Williamson, says the 16th ISTMA World Conference will take place in Cape Town from 18 to 22 September 2023. This follows a unanimous decision by ISTMA World to move the Association’s 16th World Conference, originally scheduled to take place in Shanghai, China in 2023, to Cape Town due to Covid-19 restrictions in China. The decision was made at a General Assembly meeting attended by 14 member countries in Stuttgart Germany in May this year.  Williamson says the decision was supported by the China Die & Mould Industry Association (CDMIA). CDMIA will now host the 17th ISTMA World Conference in Shanghai in June 2026.

He welcomed the decision and said it created a win-win solution for ISTMA and both China and South Africa. Williamson says All Africa Expo ISTMA 2023 will focus on sustainable developmental approaches and ways to optimise technical and skills development in manufacturing.

ISTMA World is a non-commercial international association serving as a global platform for cooperation and knowledge sharing between 23 member associations in 22 countries in the tooling and machining industry. Collectively, ISTMA member associations represent more than 8 000 companies with a collective annual turnover in excess of 120 billion U.S. dollars.

The Group Chief Executive Officer of PtSA, Tapiwa Samanga, says the event will offer significant benefits to manufacturing in Africa as the local tooling manufacturing industries will be exposed to the latest global manufacturing technology, the world’s leading tooling houses and the most influential people in the industry. He emphasises that All Africa Expo ISTMA 2023 can serve as an important catalyst to ignite the growth of the African tooling manufacturing sector. “African countries have policy frameworks to promote manufacturing but sometimes lack the knowledge, resources and networks. Governments and industry should focus on the key role of tooling in the establishment of a sustainable manufacturing economy. This was the blueprint for the successful turnaround of the SA tooling industry and can offer valuable lessons to other African countries”, says Samanga.   Global linkages and relationships will be key to the success of the new African continental manufacturing renaissance. It will create awareness of how the factories of the future will look like and familiarise African tooling manufacturing companies with the advanced digital technologies of the 4th Industrial Revolution. It is the only way for Africa to become globally competitive” Samanga says. “The All Africa Expo will furthermore serve as the prime showcase for tooling manufacturing in Africa. It is expected to draw exhibitors and visitors from at least ten countries across the African continent. The Expo will feature country pavilions and exhibitions by African production technology companies. The comprehensive display will highlight manufacturing pockets of excellence on the continent, including high-end machine tooling products for the automotive, drone manufacturing and packaging industries worldwide.”

The Expo will host an African Investment Indaba Conference to solicit support and investment for the growth of manufacturing on the continent. The formation of an ISTMA Africa Forum will also be formalised at All Africa Expo ISTMA 2023 to assist with Africa’s economic recovery. This follows extensive discussions between industry and government representatives of Botswana, Malawi, South Africa, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Zambia, the SADC Business Council and the East African Economic Community.  Zimbabwe has consequently already established the Zimbabwe Tool, Die and Mould Association with the help of PtSA in anticipation of the rejuvenation of the continent’s tooling manufacturing industry. Zimbabwe Tool, Die and Mould Association will become the second African member of ISTMA.

Samanga says All Africa Expo ISTMA 2023 comes at a crucial time – “not only is global warming driving a move away from conventional forms of energy use, but the war in Ukraine underlined the world’s dependence on gas and oil. These events are speeding up the process of change to alternative forms of energy, including electric vehicles. From a resources point of view Africa boasts a significant part of the world’s cobalt, manganese, titanium and graphite – all the ingredients globally driving the development of new generation lithium ion technology. Africa needs to seize the opportunity for beneficiation of its resources by developing high-end technology in fields like green energy production. Africa has a history of incredible innovations and needs the access to the technology, networks and investment on offer at All Africa Expo ISTMA 2023 to take manufacturing on the continent to different strata.”