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SSA – January 2023 Newsletter


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So, here we are in 2023 and at the end of the first month: can you believe it? Coming out of the Knysna forest years ago an old friend of mine once told me that the world was in a faster and faster shrinking spiral, and that time as we know it is speeding up.

At the time I thought he was just being the crazy hippie that he was, but now I am beginning to wonder of he knew things we did not. Anyway, here we are at the beginning of the new year and ready to face the challenge.

I think we are certainly going to face a challenge in the first half of the year, as the country battles with the slower-than-expected economy and the devastating effects of the continued “loadshedding”. The current power situation is having serious effects on our industry – so much so that some mills are reporting a very uncertain future. Our representative and big brother FSA on the PPGI panel is doing sterling work on our behalf to bring the situation to the attention of the powers that be.

While there is not much that we can do to influence the national energy situation, some sawmills do already contribute to the production of power for their own and immediate communities’ needs. This will surely expand in the future, we foresee that so-called “bio-energy” will play an increasing role in the future.

Speaking of the future, this year we will see two wood-focused events happening:

Wood Conference in Cape Town on 28 February

The conference is aimed professionals in architecture, engineering, wood construction, carpentry, planning, interior decorators, universities and their students as well as investors and the state sector. Website

WoodEx for Africa in Midrand from 27-29 June

Not unfamiliar to many of you, WoodEX is a trade and networking expo for machinery, tools and supplies. This year it will be held alongside the third edition of the Deck & Flooring Expo and co-located with Africa’s biggest construction expo, the Big 5 Construct Southern Africa, previously African Construction Expo. Website

We are also in planning mode for our Talking Timber webinars, and hope to bring a number of topics to your screen over the next 12 months. If you would like to be added to the webinar mailing list, please email

In the spirit of sharing knowledge and connecting, we encourage you to visit our website:

Other than the power situation, sawmills that we have spoken to are reporting a slow start to the sales year. Let’s hope that now that the holiday period is over, things start to improve. If the performance of the JSE is anything to go by, then the South African economy may just be starting to improve, so let’s hope that this results in an upturn in building activity.

Here at Sawmilling SA, the year has got off to a flying start: our chairman, Duncan, and I have already hade meetings with various sawmillers and we will also be holding our first Exco meeting at the end of February.

We certainly hope that you all had a peaceful and restful Christmas and New Year’s break, and are recharged and ready to face 2023. Fasten your seatbelts – it’s going to be a bumpy ride. Just don’t forget, even in 2023, “You will still need to keep cutting straight and drying flat.”

Have a good one, and cheers till next month.

Roy Southey
Executive Director: Sawmilling South Africa

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