Gauteng’s Township Bill will empower our communities

It could soon be easier to start a business in the township and access funding and support from government

In his July 2019 state of the province address, Gauteng Premier David Makhura pledged to champion and pass the Gauteng Township Economic Development Bill to ease the regulatory burden facing township-based enterprises. The purpose of the draft Bill is to provide a framework for the promotion and development of the township economy — which is valued at about R200-billion per year — and to create a conducive environment for it to thrive.

The draft Bill is one of Gauteng’s efforts to make starting and formalising a business in the township simpler and seamless. The proposed legislation seeks to address all by-laws that inhibit, frustrate and suppress the operation of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and informal businesses in the province. It will also make it easier for SMEs to access funding and technical support from government and will require provincial government entities to play a greater role in supporting SMEs. 

The draft Gauteng Township Economic Development Bill is in line with Gauteng township economy revitalisation (TER) strategy, which the provincial government has championed since 2014, with the aim of transforming the South African economy to sustainably meet the material needs of all its citizens and residents by 2030. The strategy recognises full integration of previously excluded people from the townships and peri-urban centres into the core of the Gauteng economy.

The draft Bill is one of Gauteng’s efforts to make starting and formalising a business in the township simpler and seamless.

In 2015, the Gauteng provincial government held TER roadshows in 65 townships across Gauteng to consult businesses on the challenges facing them. Among the many challenges, the entrepreneurs stressed the need for finance, technical skills, access to markets, the shortage of land and premises to do business, and the need to change by-laws to make it easier to do business in townships.

A notable challenge shared by members of the public were that migrants and refugees were taking away business from South Africans in townships. To address these issues, should the Bill be passed, foreign nationals without permanent residency status will be banned from opening and operating businesses in certain townships in the province.

Through this draft Bill, the Gauteng township economy development fund will also be established to provide credit finance and insurance to township enterprises. The fund will guarantee the repayment of, or provide loan insurance or credit insurance of financial obligation undertaken by township-based enterprises.

The government will also encourage innovation and transfer of technology in order to increase the competitiveness of township-based enterprises products and services. The registration and protection of intellectual property rights for sector township-based enterprises will also be facilitated by the government. 

A copy of the bill can also be obtained on the Gauteng Provincial Government website: www.gauteng.gov.za/Departments. To access it go to the “Department of Economic Development” tab, and then click on “Publications”.