The project is an investigation into the manufacturing sector in the eThekwini region, which is one of the largest concentrations of manufacturing activity in South Africa. The purpose is to build and analyse a detailed set of micro-level firm data to inform economic policy in this metropolitan city, and, more broadly, in South Africa. The manufacturing sector has undergone significant changes over the last two decades. Policymakers, the academic community and the business community need to understand the nature of these changes.

While collecting data on current conditions in manufacturing the survey also attempts to follow up with establishments from a previous 2002/2003 survey, in order to demonstrate the dynamic picture which exists in manufacturing, particularly in sectors like clothing and textiles, agro-processing and metal works. This component of the survey will, for example, allow the researchers to understand changes in employment levels and trade performance within manufacturing firms.

The survey analysis will provide policymakers, the business community and researchers with valuable insights into the efficacy of current industrial policies, and provide a valuable resource for research on the focus of future policies for industrial development. The survey also positions the city of Durban as one of the few local governments internationally with panel data on manufacturing firms.