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How's business? dti checks up

Written by *Tshilidzi Madinani
Companies that are receiving funding and assistance from the Department of Trade and Industry (dti) may just be surprised by a visit from the department to monitor and evaluate their work and the progress they are making.

During a recent visit to Megatron Federal in Midrand, Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry Elizabeth Thabethe said monitoring and evaluation was not always easy but was necessary.

The department not only supports businesses, but also monitors the progress of the projects it funds and strives for accountability at all times, she said.

Stimulating the market

Megatron Federal is an engineering company that offers a wide range of products and services in the field of power generation, transmission, distribution, construction and telecoms. The company received R10 million worth of funding on two separate hydro- power energy projects in Burundi from the dti’s cost-sharing scheme Capital Projects Feasibility Programme (CPFP).

The funding forms part of the department’s vision to lead projects in and outside South Africa that will increase exports and stimulate the market for South African capital goods and services.

“What I have seen here today reminded me of the fact that South Africa, and Africa as a whole, has the potential of making a mark in the world. I never thought we would have a company this big manufacturing power products like the ones I saw today. I am happy that the dti’s CPFP funded them,” said Thabethe.

The project, which is nearing completion, has an estimated value of US$150 million (R1.3 billion).

Employing women

During the walkabout at the Megatron Federal buildings, Thabethe noted that the company was also serious about employing women. CEO of Megatron Ryan Otto said that women employees tended to pay more attention to detail than their male counterparts.

The deputy minister pointed out that Megatron was also encouraged to assist in identifying a number of small and BEE firms that could supply its manufacturing activities or sub-contract in the implementation of its energy projects. These include the building and commissioning of the hydropower stations and all other energy projects.

The effectiveness of the CPFP as a tool for industrial and economic development will be enhanced by such positive changes and will play a more practical role in the actualisation of the North-South corridor initiative.

Otto emphasised that Megatron Federal was committed to expanding business opportunities into Africa, especially energy-related infrastructure and developing the renewable energy market.

Social responsibility

”Our emphasis is not only on making profits. It is our social responsibility to address the issues of unemployment in South Africa. Our staff complement is currently sitting on 400, with the majority being youth and all are permanent staff, excluding the interns who are also in our system,” said Otto.

He added that Megatron’s empowerment plans included achieving a B-BBEE level four rating within two years; recognising the inherent skills and value of women in business; continuing to support training and skills development of previously disadvantaged individuals; acknowledging the role of small and medium enterprises; and ongoing commitment to enterprise development initiatives.

Qualified electrician Orica Maaka, 34, said she had been with Megatron for four years and was happy in her job. “I don’t like it when men feel pity for me and think that because I am a woman I cannot perform well. But my male colleagues now respect me and know that I am good at my job,” she said.

* Tshilidzi Madinani works for the dti.

For more information on the dti schemes, visit: www.thedti.gov.za/financial_assistance/financial_assistance.jsp