Trade and industry minister Rob Davies. Picture: GCIS
Trade and industry minister Rob Davies. Picture: GCIS

The department of trade and industry is fast-tracking the black industrialist programme, saying economic growth and transformation relies on it.

According to the department, the programme aims to unlock the potential of black industrialist companies in key sectors of the economy through deliberate, targeted and well-defined financial and nonfinancial interventions.​

This week, the department facilitated the opening of an R81m factory belonging to Africa Bespoke Apparel (ABA), a black industrialists programme beneficiary firm based in Verulam, KwaZulu-Natal.

Bulelani Magwanishe, the trade and industry deputy minister, said that at the heart of the government’s policy intervention was the advancement of the industrial sector to alleviate poverty, inequality and unemployment.

“With black industrialists like Africa Bespoke Apparel, I am confident that we are close enough to achieving our objectives,” said Magwanishe.

He welcomed Africa Bespoke Apparel’s planned training academy saying it would go a long way in developing the skills of young people and equip them for the new age of innovation and discovery.

Speaking at the same launch, the MEC for economic development, tourism and environmental affairs, Sihle Zikalala, said the ABA facility was a demonstration of concerted and continued efforts to support the local clothing and textile industry.

“We know that in the recent past, this industry succumbed to severe international pressure, leading to the decimation of the local manufacturing capacity and job losses. We are pleased to report today that the government, in partnership with private-sector stakeholders, is working … to rebuild the manufacturing capacity in the clothing and textile industry,” said Zikalala.

He added that the government continued to avail financial assistance and other support in order to make the domestic clothing and textile industry more competitive.

Late in 2018, trade and industry minister Rob Davies said the slowdown in manufacturing was not going to hamper the black industrialists funding scheme.

"That the economy is not performing does not mean that we can afford to hold back on an essential programmes like this. The black industrialist programme will be supporting a range of small and medium businesses in the manufacturing space," he said.