BBC calls for internet cafés to be added to essential services providers list
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CAPE TOWN – The Black Business Chamber (BBC) has called on the National Coronavirus Command Council to add internet cafés to the essential service providers list in order to help small businesses continue to operate during the national lockdown.
The BBC’s secretary-general Mntuwekhaya Cishe said a majority of small businesses did not have the privilege of wifi connectivity at home, which presented a challenge for them when it came to accessing internet-based services.
The Department of Trade and Industry (dti) introduced a portal on the website run by the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) to log company details where companies comply with the regulations issued by the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs on 25 March 2020.
“Most informal traders and businesses are just ordinary citizens, most of whom are not exposed to into internet services. As such, delegated officials must not put much emphasis on the self-service Covid BizPortal for traders to get permits. They must always go a step further in helping these businesses,” said Cishe.
Cishe said as the BBC they took note of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement extending the nation-wide lockdown till the end of the April. “We believe that there is enough evidence behind this call.
“As representatives of small businesses, the BBC is calling on municipalities to work with necessary diligence and empathy required in making sure that they help without fail in issuing permits to grassroots and small businesses as per Covid-19 regulations and guidelines.
"We further call on other medium-sized and big businesses that are willing to make contributions to assist grassroots and small businesses to do so as BBC has a well-crafted plan that is aimed at helping these businesses even beyond this pandemic. During this difficult time, we believe that every intervention is needed, be it in the form of a loan or pure donation.
"We have noted the relief fund that has been announced by the Department of Small Business Development to help informal traders," said Cishe.
Nearly 1 500 companies have, so far, registered on the online Bizportal to provide essential services during South Africa’s national lockdown, with most in food supply, medical and pharmaceutical services, and transport services, according to the dti.
Only companies, spaza shops, healthcare professionals and farmers permitted in terms of the lockdown regulations will be allowed to continue operating through the period.
“Possession of a CIPC certificate does not constitute permission to operate during the lockdown. Companies must be guided by the regulation as to whether their business operations constitute essential services. Any misrepresentation of information is a criminal offence and will be prosecuted,” the dti warned.
The dti also asked companies to be patient through the registration process, as there are large volumes presently being experienced.