Held at Emperors Palace in Gauteng, the Southern African Institute of Steel Construction (SAISC) Steel Awards 2023 not only celebrated the proud legacy of steel through the ages and its pivotal contribution to civilisation, but also the significant achievements of the South African steel sector.
Game of Thrones theme
It was only fitting that Game of Thrones was chosen as the theme for the year. The SAISC’s chief executive officer (CEO), Amanuel Gebremeskel, pointed out that the long television series covers a fictitious and fractured world where battles ensue between various powers for the iron throne. At the same time, the competing claimants also struggle to respond to an other-worldly force that threatens to destroy them all.
It seems that the world is emulating the show in many ways. People are living in a highly contested space where the contesting powers appear unable to collectively face global challenges that threaten all. The theme also explicitly celebrates the most important technology of this era, steel, as the backbone of real and fictitious worlds alike.
Creating the throne
News of horrible wars, earthquakes, competition for resources and scarce energy is a reminder that the steel industry is the one that figures out how to build the steel structures that can withstand blasts, resist earthquakes, dig out and process the resources of the earth
and build power plants. “We are literally in the business of creating the iron throne,” says Gebremeskel.
Growing projects across Africa
Of particular interest this year was that many of the notable projects nominated were not confined to South Africa, but across the continent. This was reflected in the number of Pan-African projects that won awards and indicated that one of the SAISC’s long-held goals is being realised.
The geographic and technical reach of the projects was incredible, including some that have broken global records; while others have carved out spaces of peaceful worship in war-torn areas. “Fabricators and manufacturers have really forged ahead and made a big leap into Africa! They have built structures in a way that has never been done before, delivering products and innovations that have never been seen before – not only locally but across the continent,” says Gebremeskel.
Large retail distribution centres have grown tremendously in size and aesthetically. Retailers are looking for greater efficiency, so these buildings are getting bigger every year. South Africa is becoming the vanguard for the construction of distribution centres throughout the region.
Gebremeskel explains: “These are the kinds of buildings that many other countries in Africa require moving forward, so we need to develop local steel sector expertise to deliver similar projects cross-border in the future.”
It should also be noted that more women in the steel supply chain submitted projects, as did more small companies and emerging steel entrepreneurs. There was also significantly more collaboration. Previously, the designer presented the fabricator with drawings, and they had to figure out how to put it together. Now, both engineers and contractors are involved right from the get-go. The sequence of the work has essentially changed. This is a major leap forward for the industry.
Many of the projects showcased at the SAISC Steel Awards 2023 are iconic structures, which have made a lasting contribution to the built environment and will be a testament to South African steel sector skills for many years.
The challenges that the local industry and Institute face are significantly more complicated than any global contemporaries. “It is no exaggeration to say that our global colleagues are impressed with what our Institute, your companies and our local universities have achieved. There is little question that we punch well above our weight,” confirms Gebremeskel.
“Overall, the diversity of participants and projects has increased – which bodes well for overall transformation within the steel sector.” – Amanuel Gebremeskel
Full thanks and acknowledgement go to https://www.saisc.co.za for the information in this editorial.