By Cllr Andile Tlhoaele

Chairperson, B-BBEE ICT Sector Council

In Jan 1998, I landed my dream job as an Internal Sales Engineer at Hewlett Packard (HP) South Africa. I had responded to a job advert in the Sunday Times Career section, after turning 21 the previous year.

Before I even earned my first salary at HP, I was sent to San Francisco, California for training as part of the then HP’s global sales development programme for Sales Engineers. The impact of that programme is something that I have carried with me throughout my 24 year career.

Long before the 2007 generic codes scorecard report system was introduced, there were already many companies that had been implementing transformation measures in the ICT sector and other industries.

With this in mind, I believe that we need to rethink how we define transformation, and we may also need to re-think the compliance scorecard systems with a transformation indicator that reports impact and awards recognition for those who exceed targets. The scorecard that is used today does not report impact, nor does it award for points for exceeding targets.

There must be a distinction between implementing programmes because there is a need to comply versus the need to do the right thing. This should be the difference between transformation and compliance.

To this end, we should, for example regard a Level Four B-BBEE Contributor Status as an indicator of compliance, while anything above Level Four as an indicator of transformation. A company should not be able to achieve a contributor status above Level Four unless it has exceeded targets and has tangibly measured impact.

In August 2004, the ICT Charter Working Group concluded negotiations with the American Chamber of Commerce, an organisation that had introduced one of the most successful Equity Equivalent Investment Programmes (EEIPs). EEIPs are an innovation for multinationals that cannot sell ownership due to restrictions and global policies. They include a combination of high impact programmes on skills development, entrepreneurship development, IP transfer and a commitment to job creation. The current scorecard does not report impact from EEIPs, and only recently has the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (DTIC) started an initiative to  measure impact from EEIPs, something which should be welcomed as a step in the right direction.

Whilst there is merit for the “stick” approach for non-compliance and not meeting targets, the transformation indicator would work differently. It would award recognition to those programmes that have measurable impact, those that perform beyond the targets set by each sector in their codes, and those that exceed beyond a specific B-BBEE contribution level. Along these lines, Sector Councils should be expected to report transformation within their respective sectors with the aim of moving their sectors from mere compliance to meaningful transformation.

The DTIC will soon be publishing a number of sector codes for public comment in order to align the sector codes to the 2013 amended generic codes scorecard recognition system. I believe this is a perfect opportunity to introduce the transformation indicator as a way to measure impact and award recognition for exceeding targets.

Raletlhogonolo A Tlhoaele (Andile) is the chairperson of the B-BBEE ICT Sector Charter Council elected in 2018 and re-elected in 2020, elected chairperson of the MICT SETA 4IR advisory committee policy workgroup and recently elected chairperson of the Electronic Waste Association of Southern Africa eWASA.