Leading a drive into the rest of Africa
SOUTH African corporations should consider extending the logic and concept of black economic empowerment to other African countries in which they do business, said Mutumwa Mawere, the chairman of Africa Resources Investments.
Africa Resources was initially conceived as a vehicle for non-resident Zimbabweans living and working in SA to invest in Zimbabwe's economic development. The concept has since been extended to focus on the whole of the southern African region. The investment holding company is currently raising R125-million through a public offer which closes on Tuesday.
Mawere said there was a feeling that black economic empowerment was being more country-specific than being treated as part of the broad concept of good citizenry throughout Africa.
"There appears to be an acceptance by companies in SA of black economic empowerment as an integral part of reconciliation. But it seems that empowerment is being seen as being relevant only in SA rather than other countries in the region." Mawere said there was a need to create "a regional imperative for economic empowerment".
Mawere said Africa Resources could, as one of the regional initiatives, be a conduit for adding a regional flavour to black economic empowerment deals.
He challenged those black South Africans who have been given the torch of economic empowerment to light up the whole region. "The sun should shine for all of us," Mawere said.
He said the investment holding company planned to list within the next 18 months on all the stock exchanges in southern Africa, thus giving the residents in each country an opportunity to participate in Africa Resources.
Investments will focus on the information technology, transport, mining and construction materials sectors. It will also take advantage of privatisation and unbundling opportunities.
Given its new thrust and focus on the region rather than Zimbabwe, Mawere said the composition of Africa Resources' board would be reviewed and so would the company's capital resources. "The investment needs of the region are far greater than originally envisaged."