The Chris Hani District Business Forum is set to establish several sector forums as a means to revive local economic development that young people can participate in, with the latest launch being that of an ICT formation on Tuesday.
Four young role players in the information and communication technology (ICT) sector from the various local municipalities in the Chris Hani district have been appointed as part of an interim ICT forum structure, with two more yet to be included.
The secretary of the business forum, Sakile Mvana, said the formation had the responsibility to ensure the establishment of sector forums which would form part of their progress report to the imminent annual general meeting.
“For the first time in the existence of the business forum we are proud to have launched the IT sector forum, because previously the construction forum was the dominant formation as they have always been an organised group. We have now decided to reach out to as many sectors as we can, so they may be organised and participants may receive assistance where it is required.”
Mvana indicated the four interim members of the newly-formed ICT forum were appointed from four of the six municipalities, and they were still looking to include representatives from Emalahleni and Sakhisizwe local authorities.
One of the interim structure members, Thozama Njotini, who also serves as provincial chairperson for the Black Information Technology Forum (BITF), said their role would be to ensure the creation of opportunities with local small, medium and micro-enterprises (SMMEs).
“Several government fibre contracts have been awarded to big businesses from outside the province. We have found that one of the key hindrances to local SMMEs is the lack of accreditation, especially in rural areas, so it is important for an ICT forum to exist in this area. We want to ensure partnership of small businesses with the bigger ones as sub-contractors, so there are job opportunities, and for them to learn new work from established businesses.”
Another member, Lazola Pukwana, said ICT was the driver of the economy across all sectors so it was important for the structure to exist in an area where there both formal and informal businesses played a role in the sector.
“There are many internet cafes, DSTV installers and others that operate informally and therefore cannot receive assistance when required, because their businesses are not registered. Our role is to ensure their registration and conduct training, when necessary, to upskill people.”
Sonwabile Antoni indicated their role in the interim structure would be that of an advisory panel that would look into the existing ICT policies which seemed not to accommodate small and upcoming businesses due to policy barriers.
Mvana said he hoped the ICT forum would hold their AGM soon, when a long-term structure would be appointed.