The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has committed to increasing funding to the export councils to drive the transformation agenda in different sectors.
The commitment emanated from the export councils meeting that was hosted by DTI director-general Lionel October, in Pretoria.
October said it was important to increase the funding in order to meet export targets and also to attach the conditionality of transformation to address the imbalances in different sectors.
“Transformation of different industries is vital and that is going to be the precondition of funding for all export councils to commit to transformation and to grow the economy through exports.
“Export councils’ knowledge of industries and global markets is invaluable and it can never be replicated without decisive interventions, but what is important is to pass the knowledge on to the new players and have succession plans to be able to transfer knowledge and skills,” said October.
He urged the councils to set targets for transformation and work towards them expeditiously. For example, he said, they could set targets in their councils in terms of staff complement, companies they procure goods from, and work towards having their own black economic empowerment export councils’ scorecard.
Speaking after the meeting, South African Electro-Technical Export Council representative Chiboni Evans said the discussions will help the export councils to understand, from the government’s perspective, what is needed from them, and in turn communicate to the government what they need in terms of support in different sectors of the economy.
“The biggest commitment we received out of our engagement is the fact that our funding will be increased. Obviously, finalising the quantum [of the financing] and how it is going to work needs to be finalised internally. But what was also important is that October insisted that we will not just get funding from government, but we also need to give something back from the private sector,” said Evans.
She added that, as export councils, they all agree that issues around transformation are very important and that commitment needs to be shown from both parties to make sure it happens in all sectors.