‘The dti to drive rural and township economy’

lionel octoberThe Department of Trade and Industry (the dti) has announced to create a project management unit to drive the implementation of the recommendations of the inaugural two-day Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) Rural and Township Economy Summit that ended in East London

This was said by Lionel October, director-general of the department, during addressing more than 1,400 delegates from across the country.

“There are various recommendations and solutions to the challenges that we are facing in our efforts to upscale the township and rural economy. But what came out loud and clear from all the commissions in the summit was that we need a clear and concrete implementation mechanism if we were to succeed in transforming this economy,” said October.

“Our response as government is that we are going to create a project management unit that will drive, on a full-time basis, the implementation of the recommendations and proposals that came out of this summit. It will be an inter-governmental structure that will be located in one of the big institutions such as the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research,” October added.

“There is a gap between our policies, financial support and procurement opportunities offered by government, and the implementation on the ground. This is a big problem that has been identified and government will be working hard to address it,” noted October.

He also said that the dti would be proposing that the clearing house model that is implemented in Gauteng and North West be replicated in all of the country’s provinces and located in the highest offices of the provinces. He explained that the clearing house is located in the premier’s office has control of procurement of all government departments and municipalities in a province.

“The clearing house is where access to procurement opportunities is given to small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs). This clearing house mechanism will also take care of all of the concerns and complaints raised in the summit about corruption and gatekeepers, in order to close the gap between the procurement opportunities and the delivery on the ground,” said he.

He conceded that currently there were no real funding programmes for the informal and very small businesses. To this end, the dti will be proposing to National Treasury the creation of a no-frills, hassle-free funding model for these kinds of businesses.

October also pledged that government would:

· Establish one-stop-shop kinds of business centres in townships and villages which will house finance institutions such as the Small Enterprise Development Agency and Small Enterprise Finance Agency.

· Roll out broad band in the townships and villages to assist entrepreneurs keep up with the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

· Forge strategic partnerships with traditional leaders, business chambers and getting big corporates to invest in the townships and rural areas.

October also said there will be prioritisation of the three poorest provinces of the country, namely Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo for roll-out of the new government interventions aimed at stimulating the township and rural economy.

“We will also be undertaking a roadshow to enlighten businesspeople about procurement opportunities that are immediately available for various sectors and how to take advantage of them,” concluded October.

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