South Africa’s infrastructure and logistics issues, crime, corruption and the energy crisis need to be addressed with urgency as business and labour entered talks at the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) Forum, taking place in Johannesburg.
While both business and labour converged at the forum to discuss their role in the trade relations by participating in sessions discussing boosting and diversifying exports and enhancing workers’ voices, both sectors agreed that there were issues back home that needed to be dealt with urgently.
Busa CEO Cas Coovadia said that, apart from shifting the balance from exporting just raw materials to exporting finished products, "we also need to get our act together“.
He flagged logistics and transport, crime, and corruption as some of the major issues affecting business in South Africa. In attempting to be part of the solution, Coovadia said Busa has since developed a good relationship with the new Board of Transnet and is working on a logistics roadmap.
Coovadia said they have so far identified key bottlenecks at borders and ports and significant areas of criminality that need to be addressed.
“We started this process in June and are confident we will see results by mid-next year.
Cosatu president Zingiswa Losi, who has been leading the talks with South African labour, said they believed they had managed to place labour’s voices firmly on the Agoa agenda.
Losi said they believed a renewed Agoa needed to include provisions to support compliance with good labour practices and penalties for employers who flouted laws.
But they were also plagued by the high unemployment rate in South Africa and were in desperate need of aggressive investment in all industrial and economic developments, including exports.
“We strongly believe we need to address issues of crime, corruption, energy, rail, and infrastructure to see that happen,” she said.