Not pay­ing on time hurts busi­nesses

Sunday Tribune - - BUSINESS REPORT - GIVEN MA­JOLA­[email protected] GIVEN MA­JOLA

DUR­BAN-BASED in­no­va­tion busi­nesses have suf­fered a blow as they failed to meet mar­ket ex­pec­ta­tions de­spite the city’s rich his­tory of world­class in­no­va­tions.

Progress in Science, Tech­nol­ogy and Arts (Pista) founder and chief ex­ec­u­tive Nku­l­uleko Mthembu said that these busi­nesses were at a “junc­ture where they are ei­ther in the con­cept phase or caught ren­der­ing non-core ser­vices with the ini­tial of­fer­ing be­ing dented and not suc­ceed­ing in the mar­ket as in­tended”. He at­trib­uted their fail­ure and regress to cus­tomers not pay­ing on time for ser­vices ren­dered and lack of ac­cess to re­sources.

Mthembu said that ca­pac­i­tat­ing peo­ple in town­ships and peri-ur­ban ar­eas might un­lock new op­por­tu­ni­ties in these lo­cal­i­ties as there cur­rently was a blis­ter­ing dig­i­tal di­vide where there was no eq­ui­table ac­cess to pro­grammes and ser­vice items.

“In­for­ma­tion democrati­sa­tion like skills de­vel­op­ment, the abil­ity for peo­ple to un­der­stand their mean­ing and place in the in­no­va­tion ecosys­tem is paramount. This achieved through rapid fi­bre, 4G tech­nolo­gies, con­tainer­ised maker labs will un­lock new value chains.

“De­ploy­ing ‘in­no­va­tion touch points’ in these en­vi­ron­ments presents great value for the fu­ture.”

Pista, which ini­tially op­er­ated un­der the Dur­ban In­no­va­tion Hub (TDIH) name, was started out of a need to con­nect with Dur­ban en­trepreneurs and tech­nol­ogy en­thu­si­asts with sim­i­lar bur­geon­ing tech­nol­ogy-in­no­va­tion com­mu­ni­ties in Jo­han­nes­burg and Cape Town.

For sus­tain­abil­ity, the then-tdih had to close its doors and use an ag­ile model of dif­fer­ent venues to run its pro­grammes.

Mthembu said in the mean­time they op­er­ated as a con­sul­tancy. He said this ex­posed them to greater col­lab­o­ra­tion from dif­fer­ent in­dus­tries in un­lock­ing Afro-cen­tric in­no­va­tions that solve real prob­lems.

Mthembu said they fore­saw greater part­ner­ships with in­dus­try to cre­ate safe en­vi­ron­ments for re­search and de­vel­op­ment, un­lock­ing in­cen­tives for more R&D spend­ing with Pista as a pipe­line.

South Africa’s 2013 ex­pen­di­ture on re­search and de­vel­op­ment sat at 0.73 per­cent of its gross do­mes­tic prod­uct.

The in­sti­tu­tion said it also fore­saw a mul­ti­dis­ci­plinary and trans­dis­ci­plinary ap­proach in which un­re­lated dis­ci­plines would col­lab­o­rate to drive in­no­va­tion.

“Imag­ine a room with a mu­si­cian and data sci­en­tist solv­ing a med­i­cal tech­nol­ogy prob­lem in Kwazulu-natal’s peri-ur­ban clin­ics, or an in­for­mal trader, banker and nurse asked to solve ser­vice de­liv­ery mat­ters. This is mag­i­cal, more so, in­no­va­tive,” he said.

In­no­va­tion agen­cies such as In­no­vate Dur­ban NPC (a dual ini­tia­tive by lo­cal gov­ern­ment, academia and busi­ness) has been mak­ing strides to pro­mote in­no­va­tion in the re­gion through pro­grammes which in­clude the Youth In­no­va­tion Chal­lenge, Yakha Sakhe, Qhakaza Girls, High Schools Chal­lenge and the In­no­va­tor’s Sup­port Pro­gramme.­[email protected]

DUR­BAN’S Inkosi Al­bert Luthuli In­ter­na­tional Con­ven­tion Cen­tre will host seven ma­jor con­fer­ences this year, draw­ing 23 000 del­e­gates to Kwazulu-natal.

ICC chief ex­ec­u­tive Lindiwe Rakharebe said the meet­ings, in­cen­tives, con­fer­ences and events in­dus­try was an im­por­tant com­po­nent of tourism and vi­tal to the coun­try’s eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment as it af­fected a wide va­ri­ety of sec­tors.

“For ev­ery in­di­vid­ual at­tend­ing a con­fer­ence or ex­hi­bi­tion at the Dur­ban ICC, as an ex­hibitor, del­e­gate or vis­i­tor, there are pos­i­tive eco­nomic spin-offs for lo­cal busi­nesses,” said Rakharebe.

She said the ICC was a trail-blazer in at­tract­ing lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional events and had a man­date to be a cat­a­lyst for eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment and job cre­ation in the city and for the prov­ince.

Rakharebe said that de­spite an in­creas­ingly com­pet­i­tive mar­ket­place, they had con­trib­uted R4.7 bil­lion to gross do­mes­tic prod­uct and 9 474 jobs were cre­ated as a re­sult of their ac­tiv­i­ties in the 2017/18 fi­nan­cial year.

The com­plex in­cor­po­rates the Dur­ban In­ter­na­tional Con­ven­tion Cen­tre, the Dur­ban ICC Arena and the Dur­ban Ex­hi­bi­tion Cen­tre, of­fer­ing more than 11 200m2 of flex­i­ble event space, which makes it the largest flat-floor, col­umn-free multi-pur­pose event space in Africa.

The num­ber of events held at the Dur­ban ICC in the 2017/18 fi­nan­cial year were 456, with 1 387 595 del­e­gate and vis­i­tor days gen­er­ated by the cen­tre in that fi­nan­cial year. “This is an in­crease of 2.5 per­cent from the pre­vi­ous year in which 1 353 410 del­e­gate and vis­i­tor days were gen­er­ated by the ICC. The host­ing of more ex­hi­bi­tions, trade shows, trade fares and in­creased av­er­age size of events are the main rea­sons for this in­crease.”

The chief ex­ec­u­tive said that they had an ap­proved busi­ness plan that fo­cused on key strate­gic ob­jec­tives of the busi­ness, which in­cluded busi­ness de­vel­op­ment and cost con­tain­ment in­tended to en­sure sus­tain­abil­ity and prof­itabil­ity.

The ICC said that host­ing ma­jor events or con­fer­ences re­quired ex­ten­sive plan­ning, from the sales stage when a book­ing en­quiry was made to the event co-or­di­na­tion stage un­til the event went live.

“Dur­ban’s ICC has a highly ex­pe­ri­enced and di­verse team hav­ing hosted both the largest (2016 In­ter­na­tional Aids Con­fer­ence) and sec­ond-largest (2011 Cop17) con­fer­ences ever held on the con­ti­nent.”

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