Business chambers affiliated to the Small Business Institute (SBI) have partnered with GalaxyNova systems to facilitate collaboration between the business sector in local communities and municipalities.
The SBI chambers are taking the lead to start assisting local communities through the establishment of local data centres using the GalaxyNova system to facilitate data collection that provides a clear understanding of the basic challenges faced by the community.
The data collected is used to inform planning and actionable strategies for sustainable development and growth, fostering resilience in local economies.
Data collected includes unique crime trends emerging in each community and is used to identify and address the root causes and assist in crime prevention.
“A significant number of our municipalities are experiencing financial, political and management challenges. Covid-19 also presents a deep and long-lasting economic crisis throughout South Africa’s economy and as it affects businesses, it has also impacted our municipalities,” SBI chambers president Winda Austin-Loeve says.
She stresses that revenues from rates and taxes are significantly affected as a result of the inability of households and businesses to pay these taxes.
“If we imagine a best-case scenario of about 40% loss in electricity revenue, this will significantly contract municipal budgets and therefore spending on essential services,” she notes.
Therefore, the SBI encourages effective collaboration between the community, business sector and municipalities, instead of fighting legal disputes in court, as that is far more productive in addressing the basic needs of local communities and regenerating the growth of local economies.
However, a number of the SBI business chambers have experienced difficulty in dealing with their local municipalities as public participation and collaboration with local organised business and communities is lacking.
“According to business chambers there is a governance deficit in most of their municipalities. A contributing factor is a lack of consequences for transgressions and irregularities, resulting in uncontrollable corruption in municipal procurement systems,” Austin-Loeve says.
Since crime is the major contributor to unsecure and unsafe communities, which leads to poor economic growth, the SBI says that addressing crime through proper reporting and analysis of all available data is a crucial building block in creating safe cities across South Africa.
A safe city is a community-based initiative that unites law enforcement, businesses, residents and city officials with the intention to maximise safety and minimise theft and other crimes in communities. It has an urban development vision to integrate information and communication technology in a secure environment to manage a town’s/city's assets to improve the efficiency of services.
“We can, however, not remotely manage the collaboration between municipalities, the business sector and the community on behalf of local forums in a community. It is important that local forums take ownership and manage their own affairs in the best interest of the community and businesses,” Austin-Loeve says.
However, the SBI endeavours to provide support to gather initial data/information and establish a local data centre with access to the GalaxyNova system, but it says that, from there, the local entity must “take charge and take part to ensure the accurate collection of data and implementation of the strategy and local economic plans, in partnership with the local municipal council, continues”.