Local technology companies should joing the South Africa First campaign and work together to jointly increase the competitiveness and share of tender awards for local brands.
This is the word from Arnold Fourie, CEO of Pinnacle Micro, who says local manufacturers and brands need to actively lobby for “level playing field” procurement so they can benefit from the estimated R1-billion per week in infrastructure boom tenders being spent on products and services.
Pinnacle Micro was one of the first IT companies to become members of South Africa First. Fourie said there was a misplaced conception that the new organisation has been set up in competition with Proudly South Africa (PSA) – “and this conception is to the detriment of the intentions behind the new drive, which will actually complement the work of Proudly South African”.
The South Africa First campaign was set up to encourage government departments, state-owned enterprises and businesses to include local content preference in tenders, and will run competitions and projects to promote local design, manufacture and competitiveness.
The first IT sector members of South Africa First are Proline and Mecer, two of the largest local PC brands. A number of other public and private sector organisations are planning to join the campaign.
Fourie says that only about 40% of computers sold in South Africa are assembled locally, with the remainder imported.
“If government, alone, bought locally assembled computers this country would be in a position to create another 10 000 jobs. So it is a mystery to me why so many computers sold locally are imported. We have some very good brands available locally,” he says.
Detractors, however, believe that the South Africa First campaign will cause confusion in the marketplace – and will compete with PSA.
“It is true that there have been some questions raised about the effectiveness of the PSA’s ‘buy South African campaign’, but this is not why South Africa First was launched," says Fourie.
"The organisation has not been set up to compete. It has been set up to lobby for locally-owned member producers, in the spirit of participatory democracy – and to instil a more positive mindset.
"Just from an ICT point of view, increasing the number of locally-assembled computers being sold locally will be a quick win for job creation.
"A 40% penetration rate is not good at all – there is significant room for improvement.”