BRICS countries have been urged to continue to support and invest in the township economy in an effort to reshape the perception of townships, and foster a brighter and inclusive future for all.
The Minister in the Presidency for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME), Maropene Ramokgopa, led a first of its kind Township Economy in BRICS Dialogue in Orlando West, Soweto, on Tuesday.
Ramokgopa said that BRICS member countries have the capacity to leverage the combined resources, experiences and expertise to support each other in nurturing vibrant township economies.
She said joint ventures, investment partnerships, and knowledge-sharing initiatives can bring a transformative impact.
“As a BRICS nation, we must continue to support and invest in the township economy. By doing so we can rewrite the narrative of our township and create a brighter and more inclusive future for all.
“Let us seize this moment to foster innovation, promote entrepreneurship and build a thriving township economy that stands as a beacon of hope both in South Africa and across the globe in particular BRICS countries,” Ramokgopa said.
The inaugural dialogue was hosted by the Township Economic Commission of South Africa (TECSA) with the support of the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) BRICS Directorate.
The dialogue is convened exactly a week before the commencement of the much-anticipated 15th BRICS Summit in Sandton, Johannesburg.
Minister Ramokgopa emphasised the critical importance of implementing policies that promote and empower small enterprises in order to fully unlock the capabilities of the Township Economy.
She highlighted that currently, the Department of Small Business Development and the National Planning Commission are collaborating with The Presidency Red Tape team to develop a targeted agenda for regulatory SMME reform in South Africa aimed at improving the business-enabling environment.
“We are excited that this time around, we are involving the township economy in this particular summit, all this that we are doing here are going to culminate in what will be discussed in the summit,” she said.
In order to ensure the sustained growth of the township economy, Ramokgopa said a multi-pronged approach is essential. Firstly, she highlighted that education and skills development must be prioritized.
“Providing quality education and training equips township residents with the knowledge and skills necessary to build, expand and explore new economic sectors. By investing in a skilled workforce, we are in a better position to attract more investors to stimulate economic development,” the Minister said.
Secondly, she said partnerships between the government, the private sector, and civil society are critical.
She highlighted that through effective and targeted social compacts, government has the potential to remedy some of the challenges experienced by township entrepreneurs.
“Government policies should be tailored to encourage investment, while private sector entities can offer mentorship, funding, and market access. Thirdly, we must leverage on our country’s enabling legislation to capacitate, support and accelerate township economies,” she said.
Ramokgopa emphasised that townships remain the gateway to the economic participation of millions of our people adding that government must be deliberate about taking BRICS to townships and townships to BRICS.