New business council for Eastern Cape
The proliferation of voices from chambers and other organisations that purport to represent Eastern Cape businesses have not served their members well, often due to being compromised by the inability to present a coherent approach.
“The weakness will soon be a strength, with the launch of the Eastern Cape Business Council [ECBC],” said Lulama Ngewana, who on Tuesday was elected as the first chair of the newly formed chamber.
In a virtual speech to guests from the Bhisho legislature, heads of department and delegates from big business, she said that the province’s chambers, and other official and non-official bodies, to be effective, should come under the umbrella of ECBC.
A powerful organisation would ensure that their voices would not be diluted and thus watering down the primary aim of servicing their members.
“We already have a broad business representation from our five foundation members.
“They are the Foundation for African Business and Consumer Services, the National African Federated Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Black Business Forum, the Eastern Cape Chamber of Business, and the Federated Chamber of Commerce Eastern Cape.”
Such a powerful structure, buying into ECBC’s objectives, already marked an immediate turning point, Ngewana said.
“A combined voice can shape the provincial economy and wrestle with issues of economic transformation, growth and development of SMMEs, local content, rural development, property and infrastructure investment and land reform, all achieving radical economic transformation.”
Ngewana said in her experience “we have, over the years, been working in silos. As a result we have not been effective in setting an agenda of an economic revolution”.
“The dawn of ECBC will see local businesses contributing immensely to economic growth and job creation.”
ECBC, working closely with provincial government, has identified key sectors as mechanisms to increase the number of new entrants into the economy, creating much-needed jobs and reducing unemployment.
- Oceans economy: Maritime transport, ship repair, boat building and aquaculture;
- Township economy: Revitalise infrastructure, regulate spaza shops to favour local ownership, and township enterprise development;
- Tourism: Sports tourism and tourism real estate;
- Creative economy: Focus on film, craft, performing arts;
- Agriculture: Roads infrastructure, focus on high value crops and championing a rural development model in OR Tambo District that can be replicated provincewide;
- Property sector: Favourable policy to introduce new entrants and ensure black participation; and
- Renewable energy: Solar and wind power.
“The 4th industrial revolution is a massive opportunity for rural areas. There needs to be a deliberate effort on the part of rural communities and rural governance institutions to engage with the debate and understand the barriers,” Ngewana said.
“The agriculture sector in the province needs young people but it continues to suffer from an image problem among the youth. Our task will be to make agriculture fashionable and in that way Eastern Cape can become the food basket of SA.
“As a chamber we also need a transformation plan for the industries to ensure that the economy is able to transform and absorb the high rate of unemployment in the province.”
Chambers wanting information on membership can contact Bandile Frank Mbalekwa, Eastern Cape Business Council secretary, on 078-315-1081 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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