Black Industrialists and Exporters Conference will be the biggest-ever showcase of black industrial excellence in the South African economy

Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition Ebrahim Patel. Photo: GCIS

Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition Ebrahim Patel. Photo: GCIS

Published Mar 19, 2024


The Black Industrialists and Exporters Conference will be the biggest-ever showcase of black industrial excellence in the South African economy, Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition (Dtic) Ebrahim Patel said yesterday.

The second Black Industrialists and Exporters Conference will be held under the theme “Black Industrialists – Catalysing Economic Growth and Jobs”.

Patel said the upcoming event will be larger than the event hosted in 2022. More than 1 200 delegates will attend, and it will offer more companies, more products, a greater range of activities, and a bigger set of support programmes such as pledges that will be made.

The programme had clear and evident success stories that could, however, be enhanced if South Africa could actively address two challenges, he said.

“The first challenge is energy availability and security. The second is the efficiency of our transport logistics system. It goes from freight rail right through to ports management capabilities,” the minister said.

Patel said that in the past five years, they had increasingly linked that programme to focus on export of products by black South African to markets elsewhere in the world.

The conference will be an opportunity to highlight the package of measures available to black industrialists, including funding, export support and, importantly, the rich forces of the private sector through, among others, supplier development funds.

This year’s conference will feature 53 large companies or procurers making pledges to buy from the growing class of black industrialists.

He said: “In the panel discussions we will be evaluating the progress made with the programme. Cabinet ministers and business representatives will reflect on the future of the Black Industrialist Programme in the context of the South African National Development Plan.”

There will also be a marketplace where about 200 black industrialist exhibitors, who have a combined annual turnover of about R10 billion, can showcase what they do. These black industrialists employ about 8 000 people and are from an array of sectors, including aerospace and defence, agro-processing, food and beverage, automotive, capital equipment and machinery, and health care and pharmaceuticals.

All these have been put together to celebrate 20 years of the B-BBEE Act, Patel said.

“The Black Industrialist Programme was only launched in 2016. We now have eight years of this programme and the last past years has been particularly active in promoting the programme.”

Patel said: “Over the last 13 years the Dtic-group approved significant levels of funding to a large number of firms. In 2023, the Dtic, however, shifted its performance indicators to focus on the impact of its work measured by turnover and number of jobs sustained by black industrialists, reinforcing the state’s commitment to promoting emerging enterprises in achieving inclusive industrialisation, while creating more job opportunities. Our strategy aims to ensure that we secure greater representivity across the economy, all the while generating greater prosperity and employment.”

The conference will also discuss initiatives to further strengthen economic transformation in support of greater diversity in ownership in the economy. Challenges faced by industrialists and exporters, such as access to funding, markets, technology and infrastructure for their businesses to grow, will also be addressed at the conference.

Patel said the conference will culminate with an awards ceremony where President Cyril Ramaphosa will hand over awards aimed at recognising the contribution of black industrialists towards driving economic growth, social transformation and in advancing inclusive entrepreneurship in the South African economy.

“More than 200 entries have been received and 10 awards will be announced at the conference,” he said.

According to the B-BBEE Commission, in conventional terms, the concept of black industrialists referred to black people directly involved in the origination, creation, significant ownership, management and operation of industrial enterprises that derive value from the manufacturing of goods and services at a large scale, acting to unlock the productive potential of our country’s capital assets for massive employment locally.

The following are important elements of being an “industrialist: being of significant influence in an enterprise or industry; control of an enterprise through shareholding; board and executive management control; and production of products (goods and/or services) with significant wide use.

For the purposes of this programme, the commission said the term “black industrialist” would in a general sense refer to black South Africans who own and, through significant shareholding, control an enterprise whose products are significantly used and have significant impact on decent employment and create broad-based economic opportunities.