|The Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Fikile Majola says government is saddened by all the recent events of violence and other challenges affecting the country at the moment. He was addressing a meeting of Small, Medium and Micro Enterprise (SMMEs) in Mount Frere, in the Umzimvubu Local Municipality in the Eastern Cape, to discuss challenges they face in operating their businesses.
Majola urged local communities and business operators in South Africa, to recognise that the government is working hard to strengthen trade relations with many African countries. He says this should open up a lot more opportunities for those in business beyond the country, and therefore it is critical to ensure that fellow Africans do not fight among themselves.
He cited the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA) saying it expected to boost intra-African trade by 52 percent by year 2022. The agreement will create the world’s biggest free trade area with 54 countries and more than a billion people will enjoy mostly tariff-free trade between countries.
“I know we can despair when we observe what is currently happening in our nation. We may feel overcome by some of the difficulties we encounter and the many problems with our economy, but we should not despair. We will overcome our difficulties. We are children of Oliver Tambo, Walter Sisulu, the likes of Mama Oliver Tambo. We will overcome,” emphasised Majola.
He assured the meeting that government was doing a lot of work to boost the economy of the country.
“Among other things, we are currently visiting all provinces to look at industrial parks and Special Economic Zones (SEZs) to assess if they are working as they should and where there is a need we will revitalize them,” he said.
The Municipal Manager of the Municipality, Mr Thobela Nota, revealed that the area was battling with high unemployment rates especially among young people. He said the main drivers of employment were the informal sector, government and retail sector.
Most of the local business operators came to tell government officials about many of the challenges they face daily in operating their businesses. Among key problems were lack of infrastructure that enables their businesses, water shortages in farming activities, absence of financial and resource support, lack of general business skills, access to markets for agricultural produce.
Others were frustrated by the administration processes to ensure their businesses are fully compliant. Many also felt aggrieved that they do not get to benefit from opportunities, through government’s local procurement stipulations and policies.
Deputy Minister Majola also urged the small business operators to expand their business interests.
“We need to diversify the economy so we do not fight over tenders. As government, we know that in order to achieve this we need to support you with critical forms of support and training. But we should all be working towards the goal of ensuring maximum growth and success of our businesses,” he concluded.
Majola promised to ensure that government officials resolved all the challenges raised at the meeting by the attendees. He further committed to bring back a bigger delegation for the next forum, to ensure the participation of all critical role players from different layers of government, in addressing economic development challenges in the area.
The Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Fikile Majola speaking to entrepreneurs in Mount Frere, Eastern Cape,
Sidwell Medupe-Departmental Spokesperson
Tel: (012) 394 1650
Mobile: 079 492 1774
Issued by: The Department of Trade and Industry
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