Manufacturing Sector


KwaZulu-Natal’s manufacturing sector is the second largest in the country, after Gauteng Province. The manufacturing sector is geared for export, with nearly a third of South Africa’s manufactured exports being produced in KwaZulu-Natal. Its diversified nature is significant in the KwaZulu-Natal’s economic growth rate, and generates 20 percent of provincial employment.

The largest manufacturing industries are the automobile and component sector, pulp and paper products, chemicals and petrochemicals, and food and beverages. The mining sector which includes titanium dioxide, zircon along with iron, steel and ferroalloys is important.


The vehicle-manufacturing industry has created a considerable multiplier effect in component and service providers. The automotive leather industry has grown rapidly, with exports significantly increasing foreign exchange earnings.

 There are many opportunities for small businesses in value added initiatives. Of note is the importance of downstream development, which is required to increase capacity and lay a foundation for successful economic development where it is most needed. One of the industries considered conducive to more downstream development is the aluminium industry, where beneficiation both by large companies and financially-assisted small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) is considered to be economically feasible.



South Africa still has the potential to further raise the level of beneficiated mineral output, particularly in the production of finished goods. Metal fabrication has been identified as a key economic sector whose growth potential will be used to promote the government's objectives of shared economic growth and job creation. 

Stainless Steel


There is a well-established stainless steel manufacturing infrastructure catering for pressure vessels, general tankage, pipe and tube, heat exchangers holloware, automotive exhausts, etc. The KZN Region's stainless steel industry serves sectors such as the pulp and paper, chemical, petrochemical, sugar, automotive, catering and transports industries.

 Action Stainless KwaZulu Natal (ASKzn) promotes quality stainless steel products and 3CR12 products, manufactured in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa.


Non-Metallic Mineral Products

This is a fairly small manufacturing sector in KwaZulu-Natal, but there are nevertheless several factories capable of high quality production. The sector covers consumer products such as pottery, china, earthenware and glass. It incorporates building products such as cement, clay piping, tiles, and products made of concrete, gypsum, asbestos, plaster, slate and abrasives. The sector is highly dependent on the building and construction industries and on consumer confidence and is therefore sensitive to the business cycle. The building products listed are well represented in KwaZulu-Natal's manufacturing sector, but the consumer products less so.

NPC CIMPOR is one of  KwaZulu-Natal's leading cement manufacturing companies With three factories; Simuma in Port Shepstone, Durban and Newcastle, it has an 11% market share.

Ship building and repair

The Province of KwaZulu-Natal has a competent shipbuilding and repair sector with an excellent skills base. Over the years a variety of ocean going vessels have been built as well as renowned luxury motorised yachts. At present the shipbuilding industry has good basic infrastructure. There are immense possibilities around the Durban shoreline, especially in the construction of ships or parts. World demand for ships is on the increase and such an investment would create many jobs in the area.




The country's mineral wealth and the government's stated commitment to beneficiation should make the country a successful jewellery manufacturer. There is a well-established jewellery manufacturing sector producing a wide variety of precious metal jewellery items, ranging from mass production items to individual pieces. The South African industry comprises around 350 manufacturing concerns, ranging from large manufacturers employing several hundred employees to smaller studios specialising in high value added "designer" pieces. Jewellery manufacturing nodes are found in the Durban/Pietermaritzburg areas.





The Chemical Industry is well developed with few large plants and a diverse grouping of specialist medium sized firms. Downstream there are many SMME chemical formulators, which play an important role in the distribution chain. Central to the industry are the two large oil refineries that feed into the Petro-Chemical sector.



The Plastics industry in South Africa is well established, versatile and diversified over a wide range of processes and products. KwaZulu-Natal provides nearly a third of the country's plastics requirements. 


There is great potential for the effective introduction of biofuels to South Africa

Wood Products


The Province is at the forefront of the country's manufacturing capability in areas such as sawn timber, particleboard, furniture, kitchen cupboards and manufactured wood products for the building industry, such as paneled doors and windows. Exports from the Wood Products sector are growing rapidly.

Food and Beverages

The South African food industry no longer lags behind its first-world counterparts but has strong capabilities and well developed supply linkages from both domestic agriculture and international markets. These food and beverages sector has developed around a number of established companies, both domestic and international. The Sugar Industry, with its highly efficient base of coastal sugarcane production, is an important contributor to the local food industry.




Wine grape production in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands is still in its infant stages but is growing fast.

The ilembe District Municipality on the north coast also has a fledgling wine industry growing.


The beer industry in KwaZulu-Natal, previously the exclusive preserve of mass-producers, South African Breweries (SAB) and United National Breweries, has expanded substantially, due to the establishment of new, independent micro breweries.


Traditional (sorghum) Beer

Traditional (sorghum) beer is brewed in Durban and Dundee. The Congella Brewery in Durban is the "original" house of the Sorghum Brewery and is the world's largest sorghum brewery. The breweries have a system of satellite depots covering KZN, Transkei and Zululand.

The main inputs to the brewing process are maize powder, malted sorghum, coal and packaging. The inputs are estimated to amount to about 2000 tons per annum, excluding water.

Bottled water

The bottled water industry in KwAzulu-Natal is growing fast. In addition the  forth coming 2010 Soccer World Cup holds many opportunities. The country's fledgling bottled water industry is set to grow by an average 22,5% per annum over the next few years in  anticipation of this global event. 

Arts and crafts


Hand-made crafts are an integral part of Zulu culture, and incorporate items such as woven baskets, beadwork, jewellery and clothing, artefacts used in ceremonies and rituals, as well as practical items like clay pots, sleeping mats and wooden head-rests, which date back centuries. Traditional African wooden carving is very popular. Most of the materials are gathered from nature - reeds, clay, plants, trees and animals. Increasing use is made of recycled materials like wire, plastic and tin.

Beaded jewellery in KwaZulu Natal is a flourishing enterprise that engages thousands of rural women. Largely worn on traditional occasions, the beadwork makes a statement about the wearer. In traditional beadwork, colour and design can signify family status, gender and region of origin, reinforcing a sense of ethnic identity. Many of the articles are offered for sale at roadside stalls, markets and shops.

Textiles and Clothing

The textiles, clothing and footwear industry is well established in South Africa. The industry consists of around 300 manufacturers, based mainly in KwaZulu-Natal, the Western Cape, the Eastern Cape and Gauteng.

As well as supplying the domestic market, the textile manufacturing sector has an export bias and nearly a third of South Africa's manufactured textile exports originate in KwaZulu-Natal.

The import of textiles and clothing to the South African market by

China has put increasing strain on the domestic manufacturing industry, leading to the demise of a number of companies.

The textile industry in South Africa can be segmented into the following major sectors:

  • Fibre production
  • Spinning
  • Weaving
  • Knitting
  • Non-wovens
  • Carpet production
  • Fabric Coating

 Some companies, of which one is based in Ladysmith, process the fibre or raw cotton into yarn or cotton. This cotton, of which approximately 3300 tons are produced annually, is distributed to Pietermaritzburg and Durban to be used in the textile industry.


The clothing sector is also well established, with three levels of manufacturers  based in Durban, Pinetown, Inanda and Chatsworth. Many of these are operations handling cut, make and trim.  Other participants are design houses and independent retailers who specialise in pre-production and distribution.

There are a few very large manufacturers, but the majority of clothing manufacturers fall into the medium sized category (50 to 200 employees) and there are approximately 400 SMME concerns, which fulfill the role of sub-contractors to the rest of the industry. This latter group also supplies the informal sector, which is growing rapidly.


 Footwear Industry

The footwear manufacturing industry in South Africa operates countrywide with factories in the major cities and surrounding areas. 


KZN Manufacturing

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