Cisco in partnership with Minister of Communications, Telecommunications and Postal Services, Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams launched Cisco South Africa’s USD $143 600,00 state-of-the-art Incubation Hub in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal.
This is the second facility of its kind, built by the company, in South Africa and aims to develop SMMEs as well as speed up their entry into the digital marketplace. The hub called ‘Cisco Edge Incubation Centre’ is part of the company’s commitment to action priorities of the country’s National Development Plan (NDP) 2030 in terms of creating jobs, enhancing skills development and boosting economic growth.
Minister Ndabeno-Abrahams highlighted the importance of using technology to make economic freedom a reality for South Africans and driving this through SMMEs. She applauded Cisco for its contribution and commitment to building a digital conomy through real, tangible and meaning efforts such as training up youth and supporting local businesses. She hinted that she is in talks with the company after the Global Citizen Festival – where Cisco committed to training up 1 million young people in the data science space – about the department possibly coming on board to accelerate this goal.
The hub, which will be based at Dube Trade Port, is a smart building with cutting-edge Cisco technology that offers complete business facilities including workspaces with high-speed broadband connectivity, video conferencing and collaboration platforms, as well as boardroom and training facilities. In addition, SMMEs will be able to connect with global Cisco experts, who can support them develop business ideas and concepts in a digital world.
Dube Tade CEO Hamish Erskine explained that the Dube Trade Port is a renowned world-class special economic zone that enhances South Africa’s manufacturing and export capabilities, and supports airport-related activities including cargo operations, agriculture, warehousing and commercial real estate. It is geared toward promoting business growth, the creation of employment, revenue generation, the export of value-added commodities and the attraction of foreign and local investment. It is owned by the KwaZulu-Natal provincial government.
According to the SME Landscape Report 2018/2019 by research company In On Africa, the small business sector is a critical component of the national economy, as it is a major source of employment that drives economic growth. However, the report – which surveyed over 1,000 SME owners – also revealed that small businesses were young, vulnerable and in need of support. A key stumbling block was access to funding and access to market. 52 per cent of SME owners admitted that they needed a lot of assistance to reach markets as various industries were extremely competitive. As a result, many were failing in its first three years of operation.
“Our goal is to enable SMMEs to accelerate their growth by ensuring they get access to world-class technology. We are living in a world that is changing faster than ever imagined and we are inspired by the prospect of an economy with abundant jobs, a place where entrepreneurs can thrive,” says Clayton Naidoo, General Manager for Cisco Sub-Saharan Africa.
“With technology comes many opportunities, especially in Africa, the fastest growing region in the world. Cisco recognises Africa’s talent and we want to continue being an enabler of tech ecosystems across the continent. With our resources, SMMEs are not only able to grow but also stay competitive.”
Dube Trade Port CEO, Hamish Erskine, says the objective of the Cisco Edge Center is to create a circle of opportunity for unemployed ICT graduates and that they plan to do this with an ecosystem of partners. Representing the public Sector ecosystem will be SITA, who will work in partnership with Cisco to incubate SMMEs and ensure that they have the required skills to design, implement and manage government networks. These selected SMMEs will have equal opportunity to bid for SITA/ government ICT projects.
“The kind of facilities at this hub will give entrepreneurs the kind of head start they require to gain a competitive advantage. It will also help them stay ahead of the game in a tough marketplace, while boosting economic growth for the country,” says Erskine.
The centre will provide SMMEs the opportunity to employ graduates from its Networking Academy (NetAcad) program to give them workplace experience. Netacad is the world’s largest classroom giving students hands-on digital skills training for in-demand careers. For 20 years, NetAcad has changed the lives of 9.2 million students in 180 countries. In South Africa alone, more than 62,000 students (29 per cent of whom are female) have been trained with technical skills.
The name of the centres stands for the competitiveness that most of these small businesses lack to establish and sustain successful enterprises. It is this resilience that we are determined to arm them: Experience, Design, GTM (Go to Market) and Earn.