The Black Business Council has proposed a Ministry of Small Business ahead of the African National Congress’s policy conference at the end of the month
PHAKAMISA NDZAMELA and SAM MKOKELI
THE Black Business Council (BBC) yesterday proposed a Ministry of Small Business ahead of the African National Congress’s (ANC’s) policy conference at the end of the month.
Small enterprises are seen as key to fighting the problem of unemployment in SA.
The BBC raised the issue at a roundtable attended by the ANC’s economic transformation committee chairman Enoch Godongwana and Rural Development Minister Gugile Nkwinti, among others.
BBC spokesman Sandile Zungu said the proposed ministry would focus on business development, access to funding, coaching, rehabilitation and business planning.
"We feel very strongly about the issue of small business development …. We think that ministry ought to taken seriously once and for all," Mr Zungu said.
Mr Godongwana told the BBC to make contributions into the ruling party’s policy formulation. He mentioned that SA’s banks had shown an interest in the ANC’s proposed policies and had made detailed submissions ahead of the conference.
"The banks have written a detailed document responding to these proposals."
He said an important issue that needed to be debated was whether state-owned enterprises under the Department of Public Enterprises needed to be reassigned back to line function departments.
Mr Godongwana said many state-owned enterprises under the Department of Public Enterprises had been allocated to the department to be sold as part of privatisation.
However, Mr Godongwana cautioned that in dealing with the debate, matters of conflict of interest needed to be looked at.
This could include a situation where the Department of Energy has to choose between the interests of the National Energy Regulator of SA or the entity Eskom.
On land ownership, Mr Nkwinti said there was a need for a creative approach to redistributing land, rather than solely focusing on the call to change the constitution.
Ways to distribute land, as part of broader social and economic change debate, are to be discussed at the ANC policy conference.
Mr Nkwinti said land could be redistributed even though some felt the constitution frustrated the process. There was a need for a paradigm shift, away from the debate around whether the constitution hindered change.
Mr Nkwinti’s department has introduced a green paper meant to speed up black ownership of land.
He said the land management commission being set up by the government would go after those who obtained land illegally.
With the various wind, concentrated solar power and solar photovoltaic projects nearing financial close — which is a the point at which the preferred bidders would be are in a position to go to the banks and other funding partners draw funds from funders to start construction — Eskom will increasingly become a central player in the programme as the owner of the national electricity grid.
Mainstream Renewable Power’s head of solar developments head Linda Thompson recently singled out competition for access to the electricity grid among as one of the major hurdles for companies aspiring to develop renewable energy projects in SA.
In a statement on Friday, Eskom said on Friday that it was negotiating connection agreements with the preferred bidders for the first bid "window". In terms of the requirements of the IPP procurement programme, the agreements — which include a budget quote, a connection and use of system agreement, and a self-build agreement and a power purchase agreements — should be finalised before the end of this month, the utility Eskom said.
Eskom said its role was to facilitate the "end-to-end" access for IPPs "and "to manage the "overall service relationship" with IPPs". "Eskom has also assigned some of its senior managers to be part of the (Ddepartment’s of Energy’s IPP procurement programme) to ensure that the programme is successful."
Eskom said the new unit would, among others, other things, provide quotes, enter into agreements, construct the grid connection and connect the power producers to the grid. The Grid Access Uunit would also service the IPP account once the IPPs are in operation
The utility said the various agreements were important "as they contain the financial and contractual details required by the IPPs to obtain financial closure" for their projects". "Eskom will not be able to continue with the projects if these agreements are not signed and finalised between the developers and Eskom."