By: Viviene Pearson SAIA Chief Executive
South Africans were elated by President Cyril Ramaphosa’s address on 16 September 2020, announcing that our nation would effectively be shifting gears to Alert Level 1 at midnight on Sunday 20 September.
This announcement, which had long been anticipated by business, gave rise to a new glimmer of hope as preparations to further open many other economic sectors which had been restricted began in earnest. It was indeed music to the ears of our fellow hospitality and tourism industry counterparts who have suffered immensely during the lockdown that began at the end of March 2020.
In the previous edition of this Bulletin (August 2020), we wrote extensively about the effects of climate change and how everyone, including national and local governments, private entities as well as municipalities could play a role that could limit the effects of climate change through the adoption of environmentally sound strategies. It is indeed encouraging to note that following the commitments made in the State of the Nation Address in February 2020, the government has now gazetted ministerial determinations that will enable the development of more than 11 800 megawatts (MW) of additional power generation. SA currently has in the region of 30 000 MW of electricity on the national grid each day. This is a positive signal to move ahead with one of the key reforms which will see additional energy procured from diverse sources like solar, wind, and gas which is needed to unlock economic growth, while also reducing carbon emissions.
SAIA and its members continue to be concerned about the state of fire risk compliance and level of expertise at South Africa’s 278 municipalities. Fire risks are one of SAIA’s key focus areas where the association, in collaboration with the Fire Protection Association of South Africa (FPASA), have recently agreed on a partnership that will see FPASA conducting a number of projects funded by SAIA members over the next few years. These projects are aimed at developing resources and strategies that could mitigate fire risks in South Africa’s built environment.
I am pleased to also announce that significant progress has been made on the Agricultural Insurance Index project so far with the two-member companies representing SAIA to pilot index insurance, Santam and the Land Bank Insurance Company (LBIC), having made applications to pilot index insurance within the intergovernmental FinTech innovation hub (regulatory sandbox), to test different index offerings. Since this is a new product offering proposed for smallholder farmers in South Africa, the two members have both received an in-principle approval, whilst they go through a vetting process. This vetting process is envisioned to be completed sometime in October 2020, after which the test or pilot index insurance will be run for 12 months into 2021.
After a rather lengthy process, which included the re- engagement of its members on the industry position, the SAIA Board has approved the proposed industry amendments to Statement FS 400 (Preferential Procurement and Enterprise and Supplier Development) of the Financial Sector Code. This is a significant milestone for our sector which is also represented by the Financial Sector Transformation Council (FSTC), as these proposals are aimed at the acceleration of transformation in the financial sector.
In conclusion, I would like to urge all South African to continue being cautious, always wear your masks, wash your hands regularly, and maintain the recommended social distancing. A resurgence of COVID-19 positive cases would certainly devastate our economy further.