An Address by Deputy Minister Gina on the Launch of the Partnership between the Black industrialist Programme and Microsoft SA, at Mandeni – KwaZulu Natal.

The Mayor of Mandeni Municipality, Your Worship Thabani Mdlalose. The Speaker of Mandeni Municipality and Senior Officials.

The MEC for Public Works and Human Settlement and a provincial Champion of the District, Ms Peggy Neliswa Nkonyeni.

Amakhosi present today.

The Senior Officials and representatives of Microsoft SA. The Senior officials of the dti from black Industrialists Scheme. The black industrialist present today.

All protocols observed.

It is with great pleasure for me that today I am here to launch such an important partnership between government and the private sector, a partnership with a company that carries so much of a global brand in the ICT space – Microsoft. Let me begin by commending our Departmental Officials who have been involved from the beginning in the discussions and framing up this partnership in the interest of our Black industrialists. The Department team could have never chosen an appropriate location for this launch, as we are revitalizing the Industrial Parks back to their business pedestal. Isithebe Industrial Park is part of the Industrial Parks that we are reviving and we are going to spend a lot of money in this regard. Amongst other things is the Isithebe Digital Hub which will be a game-changer in the context of the changing business world compounded by 4th industrial revolution that is disrupting all business processes, as we know it.

When we started this programme of Black Industrialist as the dti in 2016, a total of 147 Black industrialists were funded, with projected job creation of about 20 000. Out of 147 Black Industrialists, 36 were based in KwaZulu Natal. These funded Black Industrialists are in sectors such as Aerospace, Agro-processing, rail and automotive components, Pulp, paper and furniture, Chemicals, pharmaceuticals, Plastics, Manufacturing related Logistics and Clothing & textiles. As government we are committed to make use of all demand and supply side levers in order to nurture and support Black Industrialists to grow and become globally competitive. This 6th Administration has committed to fund additional 400 Black Industrialists in the next 5 years in the manufacturing sectors of the economy.

In this regard, I must congratulate the Premier of this province, MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs and the entire provincial government for joining us in making sure that this launch becomes a success, not for the dti but for the province too.

As this government, we will continue to support and improve on the implementation of the impact-driven transformation policies so that we achieve the dictates of the National Development Plan and Broad-Base Black Economic Empowerment. Participation of the previously disadvantaged from the mainstream economy must be pursued without any sense of being apologetic on our side as government. It is about economic justice and redress. Deracialisation of the economy is a necessary condition for the real freedom and emancipation of those who were excluded from it, on the basis of their color bar. We need to create more jobs, we need more skills and we need more SMMEs in order in order to democratize the economic space. It is within this context that Black Industrialists (BI) programme must be understood.

As the dti, we are called upon to build these Black Industrialists in all industrial sectors and to establish a dedicated programme to promote growth and competitiveness of black owned and controlled enterprises in the whole economy. In this regard we are working on a more improved support for both financial and non-financial to ensure that this radical project continues without fail. Our message to all Black Industrialists – don’t fail us! Don’t prove us wrong to the critics of the Black Industrialists by succumbing under pressure! This environment requires thick skinned individuals who will operate like warriors to break the glass ceiling. The most weak and faint-hearted will not cross the line of the race marathon.

In the World of business that is globally affected by the advent of the 4th Industrial Revolution, any company that want to survive for the future need to adapt and embrace new ways of doing business. The old ways of running business administration is dying by the day. We are in a paperless environment, technology driven work processes that’ requires skills and improves turnaround times. This new industrial revolution is increasingly becoming the way of life, it creates new economies, it is transforming the way we work and live. Unfortunately this is a reality that gives us no options in life; it is about a total transformation of society into a new phenomenon altogether whereby technology rules and runs our lives, artificial intelligence, robotics, drones, high powered cellular phones linking all our services such as banking, online shopping, data files and many more, are an order of the day.

Microsoft SA has entered into partnership with us as the dti to help Black Industrialists into bridging this gap in running their businesses. Microsoft South Africa is embarking on a Top-Up Equity Equivalent Investment Programme (EEIP) making a further three years of investment into South Africa to help individuals, businesses and government to successfully navigate the 4th industrial revolution wave. Today, we are launching this initiatives called Digital Transformation Programme for Black Industrialists. This programme will help a great deal in supporting the Black Industrialists under the dti programme to unlock their potential through digital transformation within their business in South Africa. Microsoft digital transformation programme will offer Industrialists the opportunity to embark on the digital transformation journey by providing assistance in developing tailored solutions for the successful candidates. Microsoft is going to advertise and work with 12 Black Industrialists with each having a dedicated budget of not less than R830 000 to the programme per business.

We are confident that once the selected BIs complete this journey with Microsoft, they will be at par operationally to those established companies who uses Modern methods of doing business thus deriving value.

I am excited that here In Mandeni, as part of revitalization of this Industrial Park, we are building an Digital Hub. This Digital Hub by the dti will help a lot in our quest for facilitating faster growth in township and rural economy. We want to tap on the youth talent in our rural and township communities passionate about digital space. New economies like coding, website developers and other digital jobs are becoming huge in South Africa in as much as they have been at large scale in Europe. Our youth must not miss these opportunities to build companies around these new opportunities. We are setting up this digital hub, forging a collaborative approach with the provincial government and local government so that ownership and maintenance should not be a dti problem only. We will want to have credible and experienced mentors especially from the private sector who will hand-hold all those who will be using the digital hub for innovation and starting various businesses of the future.

Once again, we want to express our gratitude to Microsoft SA for this intervention. We are hoping that as the advert will be out soon for applications for this programme, those that will make it, will also replicate the knowledge and experience to others so that the impact of this programme permeates to all the BIs. If there is one thing as the black race that we must do, is to work together and leave stop being greedy whilst we also outlive jealousy. We will only succeed and catchup if we combine our efforts and be be united in pursuing the cause.

To the Mayor, we look forward to your assistance in ensuring that all the investment we are making in reviving this Industrial Parks does indeed achieve the intended objectives. We want to restore business confidence in Mandeni, guarantee security of industrial properties from being burnt down. We don’t want any company resolving to relocate away from KwaSithebe purely on the basis of security concerns. Together with MEC Nkonyeni, the provincial government champion of this District we will push for qualitative development that will benefit people of this District.

I thank you.

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