THE government is gearing up to launch a massive drive to encourage consumers to buy Eastern Cape manufactured goods and services. First announced by Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism Department MEC Mcebisi Jonas in 2010, the Buy EC campaign actively supports localised production, manufacturing, procurement and consumption.
Sixolile Makaula, Jonas’s spokesman, said the launch was delayed due to a lack of dedicated human resources to drive the initiative. The department was preparing to relaunch it for the 2014-15 financial year.
Since 2012, partnership agreements had been established with business chambers in the province, baseline research conducted and general awareness on the Buy EC concept created among stakeholders, Makaula said.
The next focus of the campaign would be to establish a government intervention programme to facilitate strategic procurement from Eastern Cape firms and the public launch of the Buy EC campaign.
“The campaign revolves around lobbying for private companies and service providers to procure goods and services from Eastern Cape-based SMMEs. The main objective is to stimulate new manufacturing or the services sector as a means of growing the economy,” Makaula said.
“The initiative endeavours to encourage both public and private sectors to fully participate towards the implementation of the campaign.”
Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber communications manager Nicole Klokow said the body had agreed to participate in the Buy EC initiative last year.
“The first phase of the project has allowed the chamber to further understand what gaps exist within the buying patterns of goods and services in our city region. The research has also indicated the desired need for a dedicated business-to-business platform that will drive the sourcing of services or goods between firms in the city,” Klokow said.
The Buy EC campaign would not only create a heightened awareness among consumers of what products and services were home-grown, but also stimulate the local economy, she said.
“Enterprises in the Eastern Cape, and even more so those in the Nelson Mandela Bay region, have an opportunity to grow their market share and increase turnover.
“The challenge is to take advantage of these opportunities through better services, products and prices. The more we know about what products and services we have as a region, the better we will perform in linking potential customers and partners while at the same time growing exponentially our economic base for business and customers,” Klokow said.
The Border-Kei Chamber of Business is one of the driving partners of the Buy EC campaign, in conjunction with the Economic Development Department.
Chamber manager Tish Holbrook said the project had been progressing well in the past two years. “Wanting to incentivise local sourcing and content, Buy EC is primarily a strategy to improve the government supply chain,” she said.
“Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, Buy EC is a strategy to support economic growth in the Eastern Cape, this being phase two of the project.” – Cindy Preller