The Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber hosted its Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Wednesday evening, 16 May 2018 at the Radisson Blu reflecting on its achievements of the past financial year and the long road ahead to facilitate greater levels of investment, growth and inclusive prosperity for residents, business owners and organisations in Nelson Mandela Bay.
Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber President Thomas Schaefer noted the efforts of the Business Chamber has delivered concrete results with a strong legacy that will stimulate economic progress in Nelson Mandela Bay, provide value-added services to local businesses and facilitate an enabling environment for business.
“On a local level, we were pleased to hear that Moody’s upgraded the Nelson Mandela Bay metro from a rating of AA1.ZA to AAA.ZA,” he said.
“This augurs well for the strategy of trade and investment which the Business Chamber, together with the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality and other partners, will be implementing going forward. We expect the Metro to do more to continue receiving improved ratings.”
Past, current and forthcoming highlights from the Business Chamber highlighted at the AGM included:
- Development of a new strategy which is based on the Triple Helix model which incorporates a strong partnership between three stakeholders, the private sector, the public sector and the University. The appointment of a dynamic CEO Nomkhita Mona was concluded in December 2017 and the strategy is being unpacked and actioned.
- The strategy will be underpinned by a strong research element, and the Business Chamber has set up a Research unit to support this work, and within the next few days the process of appointing a Head of Research will be finalized.
- Unlocking in excess of R1 billion in road infrastructure. After years of lobbying by the Business Chamber, SANRAL announced in 2017 that the Addo road would be upgraded by SANRAL to become a national road. The 2017 to 2023 budget allocation for the upgrade is R575 million (Addo to Kirkwood road) and R675 million (Motherwell to Addo road). The Business Chamber, through its Roads and Stormwater Task Team, continues to engage SANRAL on other local roads that have catalytic economic spin-offs for the City.
- Supporting members by escalating identified obstacles to the Metro through the newly established Ease of Doing Business Help Desk.
- Convening the Bay H20 Conference and Exhibition – a one-day Water Conference & Exhibition to be held on 24 July 2018 to focus on water security for the city into the distant future.
- The introduction of the Advocacy Levy which would enable the Business Chamber to contribute to its lobbying activities.
- The development of SMEs through the launch of the Exporters Development Programme in partnership with the Eastern Cape Development Corporation (ECDC). The programme will create a platform for emerging SME exporters. In another initiative, the Business Chamber in partnership with the Dti, is in the process of finalizing an outward trade mission to Germany.
- Strengthening the lobbying function through the introduction of various task teams focussing on strategic resources, transport and logistics, roads and stormwater, SME’s, trade and investment, and metro collaboration. Business Chamber members and subject matter experts work relentlessly and pro bono to engender change to advance business interests in the city.
In a post-AGM media briefing, Nomkhita Mona indicated that a strong focus of the Business Chamber this year will also be to unlock the full potential of tourism. Tourism has been identified as a priority as it has the potential to make the greatest impact in a shorter amount of time – with job creation and economic growth prospects.
“In terms of growing the township economy we need to focus on entrepreneurship and SME development. The city needs to find creative and innovative ways to develop this very important sector.
The Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber also strongly emphasised need for greater levels of integration and cooperation between government, other Business Chambers (NAFCOC, ACOB, Metro SMME Forum and BMF) and the private sector to avoid silo mentalities towards economic growth strategies, investment promotion and the creation of an enabling environment for business.
Commenting on this, Schaefer remarked:
“We believe that a unified voice from the business fraternity as a whole will take us one step closer to achieving our goals. The time to work against each other is long gone. If we want this city to succeed, then we must work together. History will judge all of us very harshly if this city can fail, therefore, failure is not an option we wish to entertain.