Reducing red tape key to making Nelson Mandela Bay a top investment destination

22 November 2018 | Web Article Number: ME201812798

SMME Development & Support

By Nomkhita Mona, Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber CEO

AGAINST the backdrop of a technical recession and the persistent challenge of the unemployment rate, the World Bank released its Doing Business in South Africa report at the end of September 2018.

In this, World Bank researchers detail the many difficulties faced by entrepreneurs who – though eager to start their own ventures and create opportunities for the country’s unemployed masses - become entangled in red tape before they manage to establish their place within the greater economy.

Out of the nine cities that were included in the survey – which measured several factors regarding the ease of doing business – Nelson Mandela Bay was often ranked in the middle section of the list.

We should aim to be placed at the top.

However, there is a lot of work still to be done if we hope to compete with some of the cities that performed better (including Cape Town and Mangaung) for the attention of prospective investors. We are past the point of laying this task at the feet of government officials. Business and civil society need to play their parts.

In the various categories, Nelson Mandela Bay was ranked:

- Fifth, in the efficiency of dealing with both construction permit applications and property registrations;

- Sixth when it came to enforcing contracts that are in place;

- And in ninth and last place on the process of setting up an electricity connection.

In the last category, the report notes that the metro made the most significant progress of all nine areas since 2015. Nelson Mandela Bay also showed the most improvement relating to construction permits, through engaging with the municipalities of Tshwane and Johannesburg and learning from their practices.

Should this collaborative approach not be the norm?

The Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber strongly advocates for collaborative relationships – not only between local government departments, but between the various stakeholders and organisations that make up a business community.

To this end, the Business Chamber has established seven task teams, who have been lobbying for and championing the provision of the necessary infrastructure and systems that will ultimately make the Bay a first-class investment destination.

These task teams, which include SME, Roads and Storm water, Electricity, Water, Transport and Logistics, Metro Collaboration and a Trade and Investment sub-committee, have proven very effective in defending and promoting the interests of business in the metro.

The Business Chamber also established its own Ease of Doing Business Helpdesk earlier this year. Through this initiative, the Business Chamber assists local business owners to reduce the red tape of starting and running a business – including obtaining construction permits and property registrations.

In conclusion of the report, the World Bank advises that there is room for coordinating and learning across spheres of government and the private sector, towards the goal of simplifying business processes. “Good practices can be found in South Africa,” the report states.

As we celebrate the progress already made, let us heed this advice. Let us find these good practices, whether in government or in business, and let us improve the way we work together. If we do that, in another three years we could be number one in the next World Bank report – and number one in the minds of investors who can bring opportunities for growth to Nelson Mandela Bay.

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