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Manufacture of Basic Chemicals, Other Chemicals and Industrial Gases
South Africa’s chemical industry is well established, globally competitive and makes use of world class technology. It has an estimated value of R370bn and the sector is South Africa’s fourth-largest employer providing 200,000 jobs. The basic chemicals sector is dominated by larger multinationals such as Sasol, AECI, Omnia and Dow Chemicals, but a number of local players such as NCP Chlorchem, Organic Chemical Corporation (Pty) Ltd and Orthochem are also active in this sector.
Support and Opportunities
The local market can only accommodate a limited number of base chemicals, so South Africa exports large amounts of primary feedstock instead of beneficiating them. However, there are substantial opportunities to beneficiate these basic chemical materials, using local labour and capital, into value-added inorganic chemicals for export. This is the focus of the Department of Trade and Industry and the Industrial Policy Action Plan (IPAP). The speciality chemicals sub-sector also holds potential and South Africa’s rich zirconia deposits are being investigated by the Industrial Development Corporation which hopes to establish new downstream fabrication industries within the country. Although the volume of South Africa’s chemical exports, especially organic chemicals, has grown, much more is imported than exported and the threat of imports from Asian countries, particularly China, is a challenge to the sector. During 2014, total chemical exports were amounted to R24.9bn while imports were valued at approximately R30bn.
This report examines the major activities of the sector, the size and state of the industry and how government is trying to address the trade imbalance through beneficiation, which should boost the country's value-added exports. The report profiles 34 companies, including the three major producers of industrial and compressed gas in South Africa: Afrox, with its parent company Linde; Air Liquide and Air Products, which collectively hold the major share of the market.