South African tech manufacturer aims to create jobs and compete globally

Marking President Cyril Ramaphosa’s call to have government’s focus fall on inclusive growth, job creation, transformation and the Fourth Industrial Revolution, one homegrown company unveiled and launched a 28,000-square-metre, R1-billion factory in East London.

Speaking at the launch, Yekani manufacturing’s group chief executive Dr Siphiwe Cele said that the factory’s production could include any tech-related products.

“This is the only factory of its size in Africa with the kind of technology we’ve deployed. We are able to manufacture any technology or electronics.”.

While South Africa isn’t necessarily known for its tech manufacturing sector, Yekani is already manufacturing education tablets used at Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal schools.

“These are aligned with their curriculum requirements. We load a full curriculum on the tablet without it crushing. It is also water-resistant and when one drops it for a distance of 1.4metres it doesn’t break,” Cele told The Star.

Job creation is front and centre for Yekani Manufacturing, and 90% of the company’s 456 employees are black females of whom the average is 25 years old.

The increased capacity offered by the new factory could potentially lead to the creation of a further 50 jobs, by being able to produce 400,000 tablets a month.

Cele said this could lead to further job creation, and “could potentially create 1800 more jobs”, adding that “the factory exists and it has state-of-the-art equipment.”

Yekani now aims to change the local trend of importing tech products from abroad. Said Cele, “If government’s intention is to create jobs, it’s important to support local businesses like Yekani instead of importing things that we can manufacture locally.”

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