President Cyril Ramaphosa says every effort must be made to support local businesses that were severely affected by COVID-19 in a bid to save jobs and create new ones.
“We have to save existing jobs and stimulate the economy for new ones to be created,” President Ramaphosa said on Tuesday at the 9th annual Proudly South African Buy Local Summit & Expo.
Held virtually under the theme, ‘Localisation as a driver of Economic Growth’, President Ramaphosa said supporting the Buy Local movement must, as a necessity, encompass investing in quality, sustaining local businesses, and keeping jobs at home.
“We have to step up our efforts not just to get locals to buy local, but to improve the entry of our goods, products and services into export markets as well.
“As government, as State-owned enterprises, as businesses, as individuals and as leaders, we need to set an example,” President Ramaphosa said.
President Ramaphosa said companies with long histories and deep footprints in the domestic market have been badly affected by the pandemic. Many companies have had to downscale and others have been forced to close.
The President said with the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic, the work of Proudly South African has taken on even greater significance.
“Given the global economic climate, we can anticipate decreased demand for our goods, products and services, even from our traditional export markets.”
President Ramaphosa said there is an express undertaking to increase local procurement over the next five years.
“Apart from its own procurement commitments, government is working to lower the barriers to entry to make it easier to establish and grow a business in South Africa.
“To support existing manufacturers, we are enforcing measures to stop the illegal importation of goods, which weaken our local market.”
President Ramaphosa said government is working to identify localisation champions to help drive import replacement programmes across various industries and for specific projects.
“If local procurement is to be at the scale and impact we envisage, we have to deepen our collaboration.
“Through legislation, we have designated 27 sectors for local procurement by the public sector. Proudly South African is playing an important role in monitoring compliance with these designations.
“It is clear that even in the public sector, we still have some distance to travel to ensure effective compliance.”
President Ramaphosa encouraged every South African to make a conscious decision to buy local goods.
“Our message must be that wherever you may be in the country, be Proudly South African. Wear local, travel local, eat local, watch local content, read local authors, support local music, and use local raw materials in your businesses.
“It grows our economy, creates jobs, broadens markets and creates numerous opportunities for business expansion.”
Master plans deepen localisation
President Ramaphosa welcomed the fact that the various master plans that have been concluded in different industries are paying off. These are in the automotive industry, clothing, textiles, footwear and leather industry, poultry industry and the sugar industry.
“Other master plans in their final stages are for the furniture and plastics industries. These plans work to ensure that the respective value chains are localised for the benefit of the South African economy and the creation of jobs.
“The plans include significant investment commitments from both government and stakeholders to drive up productivity and employment,” the President said.
The automotive master plan aims to double the amount of job opportunities by increasing the level of local content in vehicles assembled in South Africa from 39% to 60%.