South African businesswomen are set to benefit from a government platform that will assist in taking their ventures to global markets.
"We are introducing the SheTradesZA platform to assist women-owned businesses to participate in global value chains and markets," President Cyril Ramaphosa said.
Delivering his State of the Nation Address on Thursday to a joint sitting of Parliament, the President said over the next five years, the Industrial Development Corporation is targeting R10 billion of its own and partner funding for women-empowered businesses.
"The empowerment of women is critical to inclusive economic growth," the President said.
In addition, government plans to designate 1 000 locally produced products that must be procured from small, medium, and micro enterprises (SMMEs) in an effort to create a larger market for small businesses.
The President said the Procurement Bill will soon be presented to Parliament as part of an effort to empower black and emerging businesses and advance radical economic transformation.
"This year, we intensify our investment drive with the establishment of an integrated investment promotion and facilitation capability coordinated from the Presidency," President Ramaphosa said.
Government will hold its third South Africa Investment Conference in November to review the implementation of previous commitments and to generate new investment into the economy.
"At the second South Africa Investment Conference last year, over 70 companies made investment commitments of R364 billion in industries as diverse as advanced manufacturing, agro-processing, infrastructure, mining, services, tourism and hospitality.
"In the first two years of our ambitious investment drive, we have raised a total of R664 billion in investment commitments, which is more than half of our five-year target of R1.2 trillion," he said.
The President said these investments are having a real impact.
"Already, projects with an investment value of R9 billion have been completed and 27 projects worth just over R250 billion are in implementation phase, with more coming on-stream this year," he said.
The Digital economy
Meanwhile, the President emphasised that the digital economy will increasingly become a driver of growth and a creator of employment.
"An important condition for the success of our digital economy is the availability of high demand spectrum to expand broadband access and reliability," President Ramaphosa said.
He said the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) has undertaken to conclude the licensing of high demand spectrum for industry via auction before the end of 2020.
The licensing of high demand spectrum is one of the critical components to facilitate deployment of digital infrastructure to ensure that all consumers and the business environment participate meaningfully in future Information and Communications Technology (ICT) opportunities towards the digital economy.
The release of high demand spectrum is an important step that gives effect to government's policy objectives of ensuring broadband access for all, transformation of the Information and communications technology (ICT) sector, reduction of costs to communicate (particularly data costs), promotion of competition in the ICT sector and stimulation of inclusive economic growth.
"Because of additional requirements, the licensing of the wireless open access network - or WOAN - is likely to complete during the course of next year," the President said.
He said the Presidential Commission on the Fourth Industrial Revolution has made far-reaching recommendations that impact on nearly every aspect of the economy.
"The commission's report provides us with the tools to ensure that we extract the greatest benefit of these revolutionary technological changes," he said.
The commission was established to assist government in taking advantage of the opportunities presented by the digital industrial revolution.