18 November 2005

South Africa: Committee to Get Input From Forestry Stakeholders

The steering committee on the forestry broad-based black economic empowerment charter is to host workshops in the provinces to get input from a wide range of people and organisations.

This is part of aims to have the first draft of the forestry charter completed before the end of this year.

The committee's objective is to drive the broad based black economic empowerment process in the forestry sector.

The workshops, which take place from 21 November to 2 December, are also expected to provide feedback to stakeholders on the progress already achieved.

Provinces to be visited are Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and Gauteng.

According to the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry, there will be two sets of consultations: one aimed at women, addressing ways in which women can be included in the sector, and the other aimed at general stakeholders from the sector.

"The sessions will also be used to get input from stakeholders into the draft scorecard and the implementation mechanisms," said the department.

"In order to ensure that rural women are empowered to take part in the consultation, each workshop will be preceded by a capacity-building workshop for women."

The chairperson of the steering committee, Gugu Moloi, expressed her satisfaction with progress made to date and reiterated the commitment of the minister to finalising the charter in the early part of 2006.

The steering committee has also begun to grapple with various financing instruments that are available to support broad-based black economic empowerment in the forestry sector.

The committee noted some limitations regarding these financial instruments and has begun exploring alternatives that will address specific challenges facing the forestry sector.

The long lead time in showing a return on investment in the growing sector, short contract periods for contractors, and the low financial returns that some of the sub-sectors offer are issues which constrain the ability of BBBEE companies to access financing in the sector.

This has brought to the fore the need to find appropriate funding mechanisms for empowerment transactions in smaller enterprises and in support of enterprise development in the forest sector.

The steering committee has also identified several challenges that will impact on the development and implementation of broad-based black economic empowerment in the forestry sector.

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