24 MARCH 2022
A bid to up business growth in KwaZulu-Natal
The KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (EDTEA) MEC, Mr Ravi Pillay, has made an impassioned call to businesses in KwaZulu-Natal to expand their business further into the African continent.
Pillay was speaking at the Workplace Challenge Programme virtual milestone workshop held earlier whereby KZN-EDTEA and the government entity tasked with promoting productivity in the country, Productivity SA, announced further plans to expand programmes to improve the productivity and competitiveness of businesses in KwaZulu-Natal. The programme also includes projects such as the Transnet Ports Terminal (TPT) Enterprise Development programme managed by Trade Investment KZN (TIKZN), and the Economic Development Unit Project Implementation of Buy Local Competitiveness Programme run by the eThekwini Municipality.
Pillay says following the 2021 civil unrest, business must use opportunities such as the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to expand their trade on the continent to boost recovery of the local economy. The African Continental Free Trade Area is a free trade area founded in 2018, with trade commencing as of 1 January 2021. It was created by the African Continental Free Trade Agreement among 54 of the 55 African Union nations.
The AfCFTA agreement stands to reduce tariffs among member countries and covers policy areas such as trade facilitation and services, as well as regulatory measures such as sanitary standards and technical barriers to trade. Implementation of AfCFTA has potential to reshape markets and economies across the region and boost output in the services, manufacturing, and natural resources sectors.
The Workplace Challenge Programme virtual milestone workshop follows collaboration between government and business that saw the launch of the KZN Exporter Competitiveness Programme (KECP) in 2018. The primary aim of the programme is to grow the exports industry in KZN thereby accelerating economic growth and job creation in the province. The Workplace Challenge Programme is a programme funded by The Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (the dtic) and has been managed by Productivity SA for over 20 years. Productivity SA, an entity of the Department of Employment and Labour is established in terms of section 31 of the Employment Services Act, No. 4 of 2014 as a juristic person, with the mandate to promote employment growth and productivity, thereby contributing to South Africa’s socio-economic development and competitiveness.
The Chief Executive Officer of Productivity SA, Mr Mothunye Mothiba says “the KZN Exporter Competitiveness Programme (KECP) is primed to improve the productivity and competitiveness of exporters and prospective exporters through the provision of a foundation of operational efficiency and company performance”. The key objectives of the KECP programme includes a drive to improve and modernise KZN exporter practices and infrastructure, create opportunities for the previously disadvantaged and enable Small Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) to actively participate in the export market.
Also speaking at the event, one of the collaborators in the programme, Export Development and Promotion, Trade and Investment KZN, Executive Manager, Mr Claude Moodley says “thus far the programme has seen interventions in over 95 companies whereby companies were trained on how to grow exports and improve the economy, introduce new systems and new processes”. Moodley said “the programme offers training that focus on development and helps businesses improve their efficiencies step by step”.
Two companies that have implemented the Workplace Challenge Programme namely Ultimo Shoes and Juanre Clothing made presentations on how the programme has improved their productivity. Director of Ultimo Shoes, Mr Kristen Reddy says, “one of the biggest costs in in manufacturing is raw material costs and the programme helped them reduce wastage” The Chief Executive Officer, of Juanre Clothing Mr Bernard Gonzalves added that the programme has enhanced Juanre Clothing ‘s ability to deliver quality products on time”