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South African Government Launches Pilot of Online Business Registration Platform

The South African government has launched the pilot phase of a new business portal, led by the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC). Companies can be registered for as little as R175.

“[The portal] is a pioneering and innovative project for government e-services. It will improve the time and ease for young people to start new enterprises and sends a great signal two days before the SA Investment Conference,” said Minister of Trade and Industry Ebrahim Patel.

The Biz Portal is a single integrated company registration platform in South Africa.

Through this platform an entrepreneur will be able to register a business within a day in South Africa, a dramatic improvement on turnaround times of 40 days recorded by the World Bank 2020 Ease of Doing Business Report.

The public has been encouraged to test the new portal while it is been piloted over the next three months at https://bizportal.gov.za.

The digital platform is aimed at bringing together business-related services from various public entities within South Africa.

Through collaboration with the South African Revenue Services (SARS), the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) and the Compensation Fund (CF), CIPC made it possible for applicants of private companies to obtain the following:

  • Company registration
  • Tax registration number
  • Domain name registration
  • B-BBEE Certificate
  • Compensation Fund registration
  • Unemployment Insurance Fund registration
  • Business Bank account

The Minister said the Biz Portal entails company registration functions that have already been tried and tested for several years within the CIPC’s E-services environment. This will also cater for options in terms of registering for UIF and Compensation Fund Reference Numbers.

According to the Department of Trade and Industry, four major banks are participating on the platform.

“Depending on the nature of the agreement, the customer will be able to make a direct payment in relation to the registration services at the end of the transaction, be routed into a safe banking platform to apply for a business account or opt for their personal details to be passed on to a bank of their choice,” said the department.

In the pilot phase, the system is being tested and strengthened. The next phase of the Biz Portal will make provision for other services related to running and maintaining a business.

Identity authentication will be via the real-time Home Affairs Population Register and other sophisticated measures would serve as a necessary buffer to ensure integrity of the system.

“The applicants will also have an option to apply for a Domain Name and Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) Certificate, thanks to the partnerships CIPC has with the Domain Name Authority, ZADNA and the dti, respectively.

“From a customers’ perspective, there is no need to visit multiple government institutions, saving them time and money. Such seamless registration services will enable entrepreneurs to focus on transforming innovative ideas into beneficial products and services, which will contribute to the creation of jobs in our country,” Patel said.

The Biz Portal also demonstrates government’s commitment to the fourth industrial revolution and is one of the means through which government can demonstrate its commitment to creating an enabling investment environment characterised by efficient service delivery.

CIPC Commissioner, Advocate Rory Voller, said: “CIPC continuously strives to improve service delivery to businesses and is proud to launch Biz Portal, a pioneering platform for e-government services. The Biz Portal is a first for South Africa in terms of government e-services and will significantly reduce the time to register a business.

“This latest addition to the suite of channels is a digital platform which is the result of a collaboration between CIPC, UIF and the Compensation Fund involving the integration of registration services of all three public entities.”

 

For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email marketing@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: [1], [2].

New Mara Group Cell Phone Factory Opening in South Africa

Efforts to revive South Africa’s sluggish economy and create much-needed employment are set to receive a major boost with the launch of Mara Phone’s first cell phone manufacturing plant in South Africa.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, as part of the recently launched District-Based Development Model, will later this week launch the Mara Phone Plant at Dube Trade Port in KwaZulu-Natal.

During South Africa’s inaugural Africa Investment Forum in November last year, company founder and Chief Executive Officer, Ashish Thakkar, 38, announced that his company would invest R1.5 billion in a South African business venture over the next five years. Almost 11 months later, the Rwanda-based Mara group has made good on its promise.

The modern state-of-the-art plant, with an annual production capacity of over 1.2 million handsets, is expected of manufacture two models of smartphones – the Mara X and Mara Z. The company plans to launch upgraded versions annually.

According to the company’s website, The Mara X costs $179 (approximately R2,683), and the Mara Z costs $254 (approximately R3,806). Both phones have 720x1440p HDR-capable screens utilizing Corning Gorilla Glass. The cheaper Mara X has a MediaTek MT6739 quad core processor, 1GB of RAM, and 16GB of internal storage, as well as a fingerprint reader. It runs Android Go (a lightweight version of Android). The more expensive Mara Z has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 435 processor, 3GB of RAM, and 16GB of internal storage, as well as both a fingerprint reader and facial recognition for unlocking, and runs full Android. The Mara Z is part of Google’s Android One program, which provides a manufacturer unalterable version of near-stock Android, as well as 3 years of frequent security updates, and 2 years of operating system updates.

The venture will generate hundreds of high-skilled direct jobs and thousands of indirect jobs. It will contribute to the transfer of technology and high-tech knowledge in South Africa. On its Twitter account, Mara Phones said more than 60% of the staff at the plant are women while 90% of the workforce will be youth.

Mara Z smartphone.

The production is expected to serve the domestic market as well as the regional market, especially the SADC region, contributing to strategies that position South Africa as the gateway to Africa.

Given the location of the operations, Mara Phones will be designated as a local product once production commences. Promotion will be conducted through a mix of traditional and digital/online media while utilising local platforms to influence local markets.

The phones are expected to be listed on commerce sites such as Jumia, Konga, and Amazon. The company also plans to sell the phones via retail partnerships with telecom operators Vodafone, MTN and Airtel.

Addressing reporters at the Investment Forum last year, Thakkar said his company had plans to develop the phone in plants across the continent’s five regions.

Mara Group founder and CEO Ashish Thakkar (right), with Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), holding replicas of the new Mara smartphones to be produced in South Africa, during a AfDB event in 2018.

“We all know the importance of high quality and affordable smartphones and the impact this can have on the continent. Quality smartphones mean we can truly enable financial inclusion, micro-lending and micro-insurance. This can translate into better education, digital healthcare and agriculture efficiency and improve commerce.

“If this is all going to be possible… we [need] quality and affordable smartphones. Unfortunately, we have quality smartphones but they are not affordable and if it is affordable, it is not quality,” he said at the time.

 

For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email marketing@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: [1], [2].

Japan Invests $1.8 Million in Sustainable Plastic Alternatives Project in South Africa

The Government of Japan and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) have signed a funding agreement for a project to support a transition from conventional plastics to sustainable alternatives in South Africa.

The Government of Japan announced the funding support of US$1.8m for the UNIDO project during the G20 Osaka summit in June when the Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, held a summit meeting with the President of the Republic of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa. The initiative supports the G20’s Blue Ocean Vision which aims to reduce additional pollution by marine plastic litter to zero by 2050.

There are ongoing efforts to develop a local bioplastic industry in South Africa. The South African Bioplastics Forum was established in 2016 as a result of a joint initiative of the Department of Higher Education, Science and Technology (DHEST), the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and Plastics SA. The country has large amounts of sugar cane bagasse and other biomass feedstocks suitable for bioplastics; and an emerging bioplastics industry has the potential to create new jobs.

UNIDO will work with the CSIR to develop an action plan to strengthen the capacity of local industry to manufacture alternative materials, and build up capacities for plastic recycling.

Recently, bio-degradable plastics have gained attention as one approach to deal with the scourge of plastic pollution. However, when bringing new materials onto the market, particular attention needs to be paid to ensuring that the overall environmental footprint is not increased and that new types of waste are not created that cannot be recycled and that increase the amount of waste; or hindering efforts to increase circularity. The project will help to assess all possible scenario and choose appropriate material for South African contexts, and will suggest necessary steps needed to set up an enabling environment.

At the project launch ceremony, Japan’s Ambassador to South Africa, Norio Maruyama, said that the signing ceremony marked the concrete achievement of what was discussed at the G20 in June 2019. He emphasized the importance of the collaboration of South African companies in the project.

Deputy Minister Nomalungelo Gina of the Department of Trade and Industry (the dti) referred to the key objectives of South Africa’s National Development Plan, and said “The dti welcomes the support by the Japanese government and the partnership between UNIDO and the CSIR, since biodegradable plastics are just being introduced locally.”

The CSIR representative, Khungeka Njobe, said, “We look forward to partnering with government and industry in addressing the very important issue of waste plastic.”

Khaled El Mekwad, UNIDO Representative, said, “Such an initiative will be a model of good practice which can be disseminated to other countries in the SADC region. The experience acquired by South Africa could be extended to neighbouring countries where the triangular cooperation model with UNIDO and Japan may be replicated and adapted to the local development set-up.”

Trudi Makhaya, Economic Advisor to President Cyril Ramaphosa, welcomed this initiative. She said, “We hope that from this partnership there is agreement that there will be a lot of innovation but also a lot of practical applications of the innovations to new industries and new forms of economic activity that are inclusive, that take communities along, and that ensure that this new economy does not reproduce some of the flaws of the past.”

 

For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email marketing@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: Brian Yurasits [1], [2].

UK Consultancy Brand Finance Reveals South Africa’s Strongest Brands for 2019

UK consultancy Brand Finance has released their 2019 South Africa 50 report, an annual report on the most valuable and strongest South African brands.

Brand Finance also determines the relative strength of brands through a balanced scorecard of metrics evaluating marketing investment, stakeholder equity, and business performance. Alongside revenue forecasts, brand strength is a crucial driver of brand value.

According to these criteria, Discovery is the world’s second strongest insurance brand, behind China’s Ping An, and the nation’s 5th strongest brand across all sectors, with a Brand Strength Index (BSI) score of 86.0 out of 100 and a corresponding AAA brand strength rating. Despite there being a variety of sectors included in the ranking, tech is a sector that is greatly underrepresented. There is a need to develop brands within this sector if South Africa wants to close the gap with leading economies.

South Africa’s largest sugar producer, Tongaat Hulett, has dropped out of this year’s ranking, following an accounting scandal in which the brand is currently being investigated for overstating its 2018 results. It was recently announced that Tongaat has withdrawn its listing on the stock exchange and 5,000 employees have been sent retrenchment letters. This is not the first time a South African brand has hit the headlines for accounting fraud. In late 2017, it was uncovered that Steinhoff had recorded fictitious and irregular transactions, which substantially inflated the brand’s profits, and resulted in the brand’s market value wiping out and the CEO’s resignation.

Capitec is the nation’s strongest brand

Capitec (up 15% to R7.8 billion) defends its position as South Africa’s strongest brand with a BSI score of 88.7 out of 100 and a corresponding AAA brand strength rating. Since the bank’s inception nearly two decades ago, Capitec has disrupted the country’s financial services sector and traditional banks, through removing barriers to entry for everyday customers. This approach has led to the brand boasting a vast customer base, with 44% of South Africans banking with them. This number is growing exponentially as more people turn to the brand for its reliability, transparency and reduced fees.

Brand strength explained

Brand Strength is the efficacy of a brand’s performance on intangible measures, relative to its competitors. In order to determine the strength of a brand, we look at Marketing Investment, Stakeholder Equity, and the impact of those on Business Performance. Each brand is assigned a Brand Strength Index (BSI) score out of 100, which feeds into the brand value calculation. Based on the score, each brand is assigned a corresponding rating up to AAA+ in a format similar to a credit rating. Analysing the three brand strength measures helps inform managers of a brand’s potential for future success.

South Africa’s 10 strongest brands

  1. Capitec (Banking)
  2. Castle Lager (Alcohol)
  3. First National Bank (Banking)
  4. Black Label (Alcohol)
  5. Discovery (Insurance)
  6. Vodacom (Telecoms)
  7. Sasol (Oil)
  8. Outsurance (Insurance)
  9. Telkom (Telecoms)
  10. MTN (Telecoms)

To read the full report, click here.

 

For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email marketing@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: [1], [2], [3]. Image sources: Jacques Nel [1], [2].

Highlights From South Africa’s Second 2019 State of the Nation Address

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa delivered the country’s second State of the Nation Address yesterday evening, keying South Africans into his plans going forward, now that the country’s new Parliament is settling in, after the recent general election.

Below are 10 highlights from his speech.

  1. A special appropriation bill is to be tabled to allocate a significant portion of the R230 billion that Eskom needs to pay its debtors and keep the lights on.
  2. The president reaffirmed the constitutional mandate of the Reserve Bank “to protect the value of our currency in the interest of balanced and sustainable growth”.
  3. The Minister of Communications has been instructed to issue policy direction to the Independent Communications Authority of SA (ICASA) to begin licensing spectrum that will significantly reduce data costs.
  4. To return public money that has been looted, civil claims arising from investigations conducted by the Special Investigative Unit (SIU), estimated to be around R14.7 billion, will be fast-tracked.
  5. The Presidency plans to drive the implementation a comprehensive plan to create two million jobs for young people over the next 10 years.
  6. Government intends to double international tourist arrivals to 21 million by 2030, by introducing a “world-class visa regime”, and focusing on tourists from China, India and the rest of Africa.
  7. Government plans to accelerate efforts to identify and release public land that is suitable for smart, urban settlements, as well as for farming.
  8. Government plans to establish a gender-based violence and femicide council to guide the former’s efforts to eradicate gender-based violence in South Africa.
  9. Ramaphosa announced plans to train foundation and intermediate phase teachers to teach reading in English and African languages, and to deploy experienced coaches to provide on-site support to teachers.
  10. The President said he envisions the first new city built in the democratic era, with skyscrapers, schools, universities, hospitals, and factories, to ease the pressure on the congested cities of Pretoria, Johannesburg, Durban, and Cape Town. This includes the construction of a cross-country high-speed train.

To watch the full Address, click here.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa delivers the country’s second State of the Nation Address on Thursday, 20 June 2019.

 

For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email marketing@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: [1], [2], [3], [4]. Image sources: [1], [2].