Call to invest in research for small businesses

Small Business Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu has called for investment in research in the field of small business development.
“We need to aggressively invest in this area and address the paucity of relevant information on Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs). I am positive that such investments can yield enormous benefits in the long term,” Minister Zulu said.
She said research by Global Entrepreneurship Monitor showed that small businesses were significant contributors to job creation, creating more than 50 percent of all employment opportunities in South Africa.
Minister Zulu was speaking at the inaugural National Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) policy colloquium, which was launched in partnership with the Small Business Development Institute (SBDI) at the Industrial Development Corporation in Johannesburg on Tuesday.
An array of inspired thought leaders from broad and specific areas of economic development participated in the conference, which will develop policies to accelerate economic growth and development.
Minister Zulu said the SMME sector contributed more than 45 percent to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Government believes that partnerships should be created with the private sector to encourage apprenticeships, Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) procurement opportunities and business support services.
“The private sector could voluntarily support the nurturing of young and emerging businesses and share professional expertise through already existing company-level enterprise development programmes.
“Synergy will be needed across several different areas in order for small businesses to be able to thrive, grow and create jobs in the South African economy,” she said.
Minister Zulu said her department wanted to improve the institutional framework for SMME development by ensuring a cohesive and integrated approach across all three spheres of government and stakeholders and role players across various institutions.
Minister Zulu said her department would raise awareness on entrepreneurship as a viable career path and build a nation of entrepreneurs.
She said Further Education and Training (FET) and universities needed to instil the spirit of entrepreneurship in its students.
“We will be working hard to increase financial support through tax incentives, informal sector funding tools and other funding networks in partnership with other financial institutions,” Minister Zulu said.
She said her department would continue to reduce regulatory constraints through red-tapes reduction roll-out programmes.
“We will continue to do the regulatory impact assessment and regulatory simplification, targeting relevant government personnel and departments, in all three spheres of government,” Minister Zulu said. – SAnews

South African Cabinet approves R32.5m to fight Ebola

Over 1000 people have died from the virus in West Africa, according to the World Health Organisation. Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone have each declared the outbreak a national disaster.
“South African Cabinet noted with concern the extent of the outbreak and the increase of cases in three of these countries, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, over the last week.
“Cabinet recognised that even though the outbreak has been limited to these countries in West Africa, the spread to other countries needs to be contained,” said Minister Motsoaledi.
He said Cabinet recognised that containing the outbreak at the source will be essential and limit the spread and mortality caused by the disease to these particular parts of the world.
Countries have been divided into three categories, namely high risk which includes Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, medium risk which includes Nigeria, Kenya and Ethiopia- although some of them do not have Ebola yet; most people travelling from West Africa to South Africa travel via these countries as well as low risk countries.
“For medium and low risk countries, the normal surveillance that has been going on will just be enhanced.
“There is a special category of individuals who are South Africans but work there in the mines, communications, security and retail. For these groups, we have called a special meeting tomorrow, which will deal with their unique situation,” explained the minister.
He said at the Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, a decision was taken to establish an Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) to deal with the coordination of the response.
“Cabinet further approved funding requested by the Department of Health to the tune of R32.5 million, from the African Renaissance Fund to support containment and prevent further spread of the virus to South Africa and other countries.
“Part of the funds will be used to deploy the mobile laboratory in Sierra Leone, fund transport and accommodation for the team and training for health care workers”.

Community Colleges on the cards

Government is set to establish community colleges around the country to cater for unskilled people and those who did not attend or finish school.
This is according to Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande, who says these Community Colleges and will be modelled through grouping together clusters of adult learning centres, with government strengthening their infrastructure, staffing and programmes.
The minister says government is excited about the introduction of community colleges because they will cater for a population that is not integrated into the post-schooling environment.
Currently, South Africa’s Public Adult Learning Centres cater for approximately 300 000 individuals, which according to Minister Nzimande is inadequate.
“A draft national policy on community colleges will soon be gazetted and I urge all stakeholders to interact with it and give feedback to us,” Minister Nzimande said on Tuesday in his pre-Budget Vote Speech briefing.
Widening the FET market
Minister Nzimande also used the occasion to announce government will continue expanding Further Education and Training (FET) colleges, which are now Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges.
Head–count enrolments in these TVET colleges, according to the minister, have increased by over 130%. Over the 2014 medium term expenditure framework (MTEF) period, Minister Nzimande said government has allocated R19.2 billion to ensure that TVET college enrolments continue expanding.
“We are building more TVET colleges across the country and more money will be directed to elevate their stature and programme offerings. Our top priority is to expand them while improving their quality.”
Focus will also be put on expanding these institutions to rural areas, which are currently being poorly served. “To correct this distribution, R 2.5 billion has been committed by the department towards the refurbishment of two existing TVET college campuses and the building of 12 new campuses.”
The minister said work is set to begin in three of these campuses: Nkandla, Bambanani and Thabazimbi.
The department has also transferred all TVET college principals and deputy principals to the national department from the provincial education departments with effect from 1 April 2013. The minister has also appointed councils to all colleges.
New universities
Turning to the new universities, the minister said government has established three new universities: the University of Mpumalanga, Sol Plaatje University in Northern Cape, and the Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University in Gauteng.
The University of Mpumalanga and the Sol Plaatje University have commenced with their intake this year, while the Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University – which will be merged with the Medical University of Southern Africa (Medunsa) campus in Garankuwa, Pretoria -- will begin with its first intake next year.
The department, according to Minister Nzimande, has established the new National Institute of Humanities and Social Sciences to respond to the declining trends from universities in producing more Social Science graduates.

Germany pulling out of SKA disappointing

Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor has expressed disappointment at Germany’s intention to withdraw from the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) Organisation in 2015.
“Minister Pandor has noted with disappointment, the intention by Germany to withdraw from the Square Kilometre Array Organisation (SKA) in June 2015,” said the department’s Lunga Ngqengelele in a statement on Friday.
On Thursday, Germany officially informed the SKA Director-General of its intention to leave the SKA Organisation. Under the current legal agreements Germany’s membership of SKA Organisation will end on June 30, 2015.
The organisation said though the decision is regrettable it was understandable as the decision was driven by difficult national financial circumstances around the funding of large research infrastructures in Germany and Europe and that it by no means reflects a lack of confidence in the SKA project.
While the decision is regrettable, Minister Pandor is satisfied that it is not due to lack of confidence in the SKA project, rather because of “difficult national financial circumstances around the funding of large research infrastructures in Germany and Europe.”
The SKA project is an international effort to build the world's largest radio telescope.
The project is taking place in South Africa's Karoo region and in Australia.
The minister will in the coming weeks set up a meeting with her Germany counter-part to further discuss this issue.
- SAnews.gov.za

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