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BBBEE ICT sector council set to review transformation plan

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The Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) ICT sector council is set to review the 2016 amended ICT sector transformation plan in response to the impact of the fourth industrial revolution (4IR) and the COVID-19 pandemic.

The strategy will focus on the inclusion of disabled black women and unemployed youth in the mainstream ICT economy, says Andile Tlhoaele, chairperson of the BBBEE ICT sector council.

The council is mandated to support the achievement of transformation in the sector.

The spotlight was recently on the council following questions by the Progressive Blacks in ICT (PBICT) on the empowerment ratings of big telcos, saying “manipulating the system and finding clever ways to hack a way to the top is not transformation”.

PBICT president Leon Rolls told ITWeb: “Transformation must be taken serious and must be allowed to happen as intended to bear the fruit it was planted to produce for the hungry nation.”

SA’s leading telcos, MTN and Vodacom, recently announced they attained level one BBBEE contributor status, a rating that gives them an advantage when it comes to competing in the marketplace.

The BBBEE ratings are intended to stimulate the process of participation of previously disadvantaged groups in the economy to lead to increased economic growth.

The higher the score, the higher the chances of a company being able to take advantage of various opportunities, including favourable tax gains.

Vodacom has denied manipulation claims, saying it: “Strongly rejects the allegations made by the PBICT as lacking in substance. The sustained work Vodacom undertook in order to achieve level one BBBEE status was subjected to intense audit scrutiny by a SANAS-accredited agency.”

Similarly, announcing its new empowerment rating last week, MTN said it stands in strong support of government’s commitment to ensure South Africans are able to benefit from transformation across business, employment and skills development.

Commenting on the spat, Tlhoaele says: “The ICT council acknowledges the concerns raised by the PBICT in response to Vodacom’s announcement and wishes to invite the organisation to a meeting to discuss these concerns as the ICT council would any stakeholder that wishes to seek clarity.

“The operations of the ICT council must be supportive and inclusive to all stakeholders at large. In this regard, the ICT council takes note of Vodacom’s announcement that it has reached a BBBEE contributor score of level one.”

Tlhoaele defended the council, saying: “Already, the BBBEE ICT Sector Council has achieved several milestones as it engaged with the stakeholders in the sector to promote and increase the pace of transformation in the critical sub-sectors of broadcasting, electronics, information technology and telecommunications, which make up the vital ICT industry."

Furthermore, he says: "The review of the 2016 Amended ICT Sector Code will be followed by a process of aligning the ICT council's strategic plan on the sector transformation in response to the impact of 4IR and the pandemic. More importantly, the strategy will focus on the inclusion of disabled black women and unemployed youth in the mainstream ICT economy."

In its 4th Annual Monitoring Report for the period ending 31 March 2020, the ICT council reported on the progress of transformation as mandated by the ICT code.

“As part of achieving transformation, the ICT council has received immense support from ICT measured entities, the South African National Accreditation Services approved verification agencies, as well as other parties who provided the data that informs its monitoring reports,” says Tlhoaele.

He notes the ICT council is reliant on the cooperation of the verification agencies to educate ICT measured entities and to submit the verification reports as well as the support it is afforded by the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies.

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