Public enterprises committee welcomes beneficiation in the forestry industry

The Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises has welcomed plans by the South African Forestry Company Limited (Safcol) to establish a wood based industrial park and bio-energy production plant in the small town of Sabie, in Mpumalanga.

The committee recently conducted oversight visits at the state forestry company’s operations in Mpumalanga’s Highveld Region, where Safcol CEO, Mr Tshepo Monaheng and his team outlined initiatives to start manufacturing and exporting finished wood products instead of the current approach of selling mainly unprocessed wood.

The committee heard that Safcol has already signed a memorandum of understanding with the Mpumalanga Provincial Government to establish the wood processing industrial park which has a potential of creating an estimated 10 000 jobs in the area.

The entity is also considering partnering with the private sector in the production of bio-energy, and it is also working with the Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) to extract cellulose from the trees.

“Selling raw products doesn’t grow our economy, we need to start focusing on beneficiation, process our raw material and export finished products”, said committee chairperson, Mr Khaya Magaxa.

South Africa imports furniture from countries such Brazil, China and Vietnam while the country exports huge amounts of unprocessed wood. The committee’s oversight visit to Mpumalanga was concluded at Safcol’s Central Region where the committee also engaged with community members and land claimants

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