A high-powered government delegation led by the Minister of Small Business Development, Ms Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, and the Deputy Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition, Ms Nomalungelo Gina is expected to descend on Botshabelo, Free State on Friday, 8 April 2022 for the launch of the Botshabelo Industrial Park and Digital Hub. The event will commence at 10:00.

The delegation is expected to consist of the MEC for Economic, Small Business Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs in the Free State, Mr Makalo Mohale, the Executive Mayor of Mangaung, Councillor Mxolisi Siyonzana, Acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda), Mr Nkosikhona Mbatha, and the CEO of the Free State Development Corporation (FDC), Mr Thabo Lebelo.

The event precedes President Cyril Ramaphosa’s District Development Model (DDM) Presidential Imbizo in the Mangaung Metro Municipality, to be held on Saturday, 9 April 2022, under the theme: “Let’s Grow South Africa Together”. And guided by the sub-theme “Leave no one behind”.

The digital hub is located in the Botshabelo Industrial Park.  The hub is one of the 110 incubators and hubs supported by the Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda), and is partly funded by the European Union.

The Botshabelo Industrial Park has undergone upgrading of almost R50 million by the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (the dtic) under its Revitalisation of Industrial Parks Programme. The digital hub in Botshabelo is part of the Digital Hubs Programme that the government will be rolling out in revitalised industrial parks across the country. The hubs will serve as centres of excellence established to promote digitalisation and industrialisation to stimulate the township and rural economy due to the location of the industrial parks.

The hubs are also aimed at connecting communities through digital and Information and Communication Technology (ICT) related skills training, business development support services, access to work spaces, as well as provide access to training on cross-cutting skills.

According to Deputy Minister Gina, the launch of the digital hub in Botshabelo does not only mark an important milestone in the revitalisation of the industrial park, but it is also a perfect example of what collaboration amongst three spheres of government can achieve.

“In the true spirit and letter of the District Development Model that advocates collaboration, cooperation and integration amongst all three tiers of government for the socio-economic development of our communities, the digital hub in Botshabelo came into being as a result of contribution of national, provincial and local government. the dtic, Department of Small Business Development, provincial economic development department, and the Mangaung Metro Municipality each dug deeper into their pockets to ensure that the people of Botshabelo experience the positive impact of the implementation of the District Development Model through the digital hub,” says Gina.

She adds that the hub would not have been possible without the commendable contribution of the European Union, Seda, FDC and Softstart.

Gina also emphasises that the establishment of the digital hubs is a response to the rural and township industrial economy challenges, such as access to technological infrastructure support facilities.

“The Digital Hubs Programme is aimed at providing the youth and the unemployed citizens with access to information and communication technology and other facilities that promote digital transformation across all sectors and to ensure that the these sectors of society contribute to the wider economy,” adds Gina.

Minister Ndabeni-Abrahams says digital hubs will provide solutions that are custom-made solutions to the various provinces whilst providing support on matters related to access to facilities for business activities, information; skills development and training, enterprise and supplier development; clusters and value chain support, among other things.

“Digital hubs will create access to a central meeting point for business, technology, innovation and creative businesses in the respective regions. All of this is intended to promote digital transformation in targeted areas, to further contribute towards start-up accelerator programmes, business incubators, training programmes, designer spaces, and other job creation initiatives,” adds Minister Ndabeni-Abrahams.

MEC Mohale says South Africa is one of the most unequal societies in the world and often the rural and township economies are neglected, and lagging behind.

“It is therefore necessary to introduce a platform that will build the skills and transform South Africa’s rural and township environment. The hub in Botshabelo will provide a platform of digital access in the community and stimulate entrepreneurship amongst the young people of Botshabelo in particular,” adds Mohale.

Executive Mayor Siyonzana has urged the young people of Botshabelo, in particular, to take advantage of the existence of the digital hub in the area, which will be the first to be launched by the government, and empower themselves technologically to ensure that the Fourth Industrial Revolution does not leave them behind.

Members of the media are invited as follows:

Date: Friday, 8 April 2022
Time: 10h00
Venue: 9 Pink Street Botshabelo, Industrial Park, Bloemfontein

For Media Enquiries and RSVPs

Bongani Lukhele – Director: Media Relations Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (the dtic)
079 5083 457 or 074 299 8512 (WhatsApp only)

Sendra Mashego – Director: Communication Department of Small Business Development SMashego@dsbd.gov.za
076 6011 564

Boy Ndala – Manager: Corporate Communications and Media (Small Enterprise Development Agency – Seda)
083 340 4603

Tiisetso Makhele – Acting Head of Communication Department of Economic, Small Business Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (Destea) Makhelet@destea.gov.za
076 833 0033

Qondile Khedama – Head of Communication
Mangaung Metro Municipality
082 7885 071

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