The KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Finance, Ms Belinda Scott, officially opened a strategic national workshop on the informal economy organised by the Department of the Small Business Development in Durban Protea Hotel.
This two days talk-shop will see the Small Business Development department engaging with stakeholders, private sector, civil society, key representatives, amakhosi, provincial and local government representatives, and dignitaries, on the national informal business upliftment strategy with an aim of empowering informal economy to contribute in the main stream economy.
“The informal economy functions as a cushion between employment and unemployment. With unemployment being high particularly amongst women and the younger generation, people are compelled to turn to informal economy for survival. It is therefore no surprise that scholars and practitioners in the developing world have long begun to acknowledge the significant role of the informal economy in employment provision and generation. Informal economic activity goes unrecorded and therefore it is difficult to measure but some economist estimates its value to be around 5% of the national growth domestic product. Besides its key role in the economy of the country most informal workers are still faced with tough challenges such as insecure incomes, and wide range of descent work deficit. Most informal workers both self employed and wage earners are deprived of secure work, workers benefits, social protection, and representation” said MEC Scott.
Speaking on behalf of the Minister Lindiwe Zulu who could not attend due to unforeseen circumstances, Ms Nomvula Makgotlho, mentioned that a while ago the department put together the National Informal Business Upliftment Strategy with an aim of assisting and promoting informal business and to help them to deal with their day to day challenges like lack of access to infrastructure, finances, and harassment by the law enforcement urgencies.
“With this strategy the department is acknowledging the role and the contribution of informal business in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Today we have brought together all our stakeholders in the informal economy. We also included our partners, Salga, Amakhosi, International Labour Organisation (ILO), and the participants themselves from the informal economy including the foreign nationals. Foreign nationals will also put their case here and we will together engage on how we address the challenges that we are facing, but also how do we prevent future occurrences of the xenophobic attacks” said Makgotlho.
Frederic Lapeyre who is the head of Informal Economic Unit for ILO in Geneva, gave a global perspective on addressing decent work deficits in the informal economy and acknowledged sharing about the ongoing process towards the adoption of an ILO recommendation on transition from the informal to the formal economy.
“It is important to change informal economies to formal economies because workers all over the world especially in Africa are trapped in the informal economy, we have accrued the descent work deficit and it is a key challenge, economic challenge, social challenge and a political challenge as it is affecting social cohesion of the society. This is the reason why we are promoting integrated policy approach to facilitate this transition to formality,” said Lapeyre.
The workshop will continue today until tomorrow tackling the following topics:
The National Informal Business Upliftment strategy
An overview of the informal economy in south Africa – informal traders perspective
Scope and scale of the informal economy in South Africa
Creating an enabling legal and regulatory environment in the informal economy – responsiveness of Municipal by-laws
Enterprise development and support in the informal and social economy
Intergovernmental coordination in the informal economy
Private sector role in the informal economy
Local and foreign business interest
Commissions will discuss
Local and foreign national traders interest in the informal economy
Creation of an enabling legal and regulatory environment in the informal economy
Enterprise development and knowledge management for informal economy
Intergovernmental coordination and stakeholder management in informal economy
ILO recommendation for training the informal economy towards formality
Source : South African Government