The task of creating 100 black industrialists in the next three years was the topic of discussion at yesterday’s networking forum between the Black Management Forum (BMF), and the Department of Trade and Industry (dti).
On discussion at the forum held in Sandton, Johannesburg was implementation of the black industrialists programme. It was also an opportunity for the BMF to raise their hopes and fears regarding the initiative.
At the launch of the black industrialists programme in August last year, the dti said the initiative was aligned with the Industrial Policy Action Plan – part of government’s integrated economic plan for the country. The dti said they would work to get more black people involved in the productive sectors of the economy like transport, green industries, agroprocessing, biofuels and chemicals.
The programme aims to fund 100 viable and sustainable projects in need funding or are are looking to expand.
Industries of opportunity
Lionel October, the director general of the dti said there were a number of opportunities in the heavy industry for black businesses to penetrate.
October said the pre-targeted industries in this programme were locomotives (the building, assembling, repairs and maintenance of ships and trains), energy co-generation, agriprocessing and others.
“The next wave of technology is fuel cells and that is what we’re looking at right now,” he said, adding that there are moves to build 10 other economic zones, like Coega in the Eastern Cape, throughout the country.
Citing an example of how Germany manufactures its own trains and cars, October said: “We want to ensure that we promote localisation of products, and enact a law to compel government to buy from local industrialists.”
Government-private sector partnerships
October urged corporate South Africa to collaborate with government to create black industrialists by opening up market access through listed companies and government through state-owned companies.
He said though government may have money to spend and develop industrialists, “real wealth is within corporate South Africa.”
He also gave his department’s initiatives such as the memorandum of understanding for South Africa to supply Nigeria with components for cars, and a R2 billion set-aside for the development of black farmers, as examples of opportunities for black industrialists.
“For South Africa to prosper, we need to be an industrialised nation,” October said. “We need to liberalise the economy by measures such as dropping off tariffs on import and export goods, especially for agricultural sector.”
The BMF members called for an amendment to the some pieces of legislation that they felt were not working as intended. These include the BEE policy which is faced with the challenge of fronting, as well as the Preferential Procurement Policy Framework Act, which requires government to at least procure 30% of its goods from black businesses, but faces issues of compliance from relevant government departments.
The programme has already begun with one project in the oil and gas industry run by a black female industrialist.
The Advisory Council will make the recommendations at the end of March on which industries will benefit.