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South Africa speeds black economic empowerment

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South African president Cyril Ramaphosa
President Cyril Ramaphosa

by TINTSWALO BALOYI 
PRETORIA – THE government and private sector have committed billions of rands to empower black entrepreneurs as South Africa enhances its black economic empowerment (BBE) exercise.

President Cyril Ramaphosa said BBE is imperative for the country’s economic growth and addressing the legacy of apartheid.

As part of a drive to create a new generation of black industrialists, last year government approved R2,5 billion (US$160,9 million) in new support to about 180 black industrialists in the form of loans from the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) and National Empowerment Fund (NEF) and grants from the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (DTIC) incentive scheme.

IDC, NEF and other institutions have over the next three years committed R21 billion to support black industrialists.

An additional R25 billion has been committed to support black women, youth and worker-owned companies.

Ramaphosa disclosed the figure in his weekly letter on Monday, a week after a landmark broad-based BEE transaction was concluded in the Eastern Cape.

It significantly improves the participation of black women-owned businesses in the energy sector.

This week, Ramaphosa will announce the appointment of the new Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) Advisory Council.

This council, which comprises government, business, labour and other stakeholders, was established to champion the cause of economic transformation.

The council has its origins in a 2001 report produced by the BEE Commission.

Next year, it will be two decades since BBBEE Act – which established the council – was passed.

“Our commitment to entrench and deepen economic empowerment is unwavering,” Ramaphosa said.

“That is why black economic empowerment is an integral part of our economic reconstruction and recovery in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The president noted the apartheid government deliberately built a distorted economy designed to benefit white people.

The majority of South Africans were marginalised from the mainstream economy, with black entrepreneurs confined to small retail industries in the townships.

Ramaphosa believes the appointment of the new BBBEE Council will help expand the frontiers of BBBEE.

“I call on business, labour and industry to work with the council as it undertakes this vital work,” he appealed.

– CAJ News