The B-BBEE ICT Sector Council was appointed by Minister on 24 September 2015. Their first priority was to align the B-BBEE ICT Sector Code with the Code of Good Practice 2013, whose primary objective was to strengthen transformation requirements in so far as natural black people are concerned.
Although recognising the main priority as aligning the ICT Sector Code, the Council took the opportunity to also strengthen some of the elements of the Code to robustly drive transformation in the ICT Sector. In this regard the Ownership and Skills development requirements were strengthened. The rationale was to prevent practices of subverting real transformation requiring black ownership (voting rights and receiving dividends) as was applied through ownership schemes that did not provide real benefits for black people. Ownership bonus points could be earned through ownership for black women and people with disability.
On the side of skills development, the Council ensured that companies can earn bonus points where they invest in skills developments for women, people with disabilities and unemployed black people.
The above changed obviously also shook most big ICT entities from their comfort zone, as it meant that that B-BBEE ratings significantly went down due to the Amended B-BBEE ICT Sector Code.
In this regard, the Council began to receive many complaints and queries relating to the unfairness of the Code and even accusation of the Council trying to bankrupt them. For instance, where they could obtain 30 points through Broad Based Ownership Schemes, now they could only receive 3 points.
It was under the above-mentioned circumstances that the Council requested the Department’s support to embark on a road show to ensure that all stakeholders in the sector are educated about the Code to ensure that all voices are heard, not only those who felt threated by the added pressure to transform.
The stakeholder programme was designed to cover as many provinces as possible within a shorter period to maximise the impact.
It therefore started in KwaZulu Natal (15 February 2016), followed by Bloemfontein (15 February 2016), Northern Cape (17 February 2017), North-West (20 February 2017), Western Cape (22 February 2017), Eastern Cape (24 February 2017), Mpumalanga (27 February 2017) and Limpopo (1 March 2017).
The Gauteng engagement was shifted to the 28th of March 2017 due to the need to create more time for mobilisation as it is a more diverse province.