Call made to ease regulations for 4IR

Jabulile Mbatha 

Public sector strategy lead, George Tshesane and Kevin Govender, CIO programme leader led a summit breakaway session on regulation of the digital economy which concluded that ways had to be found to adapt or dodge the rules.

Presidential Commissioner on 4IR, S’onqoba Vuba, Aisha Pandor who is the chief executive of SweepSouth, Hardin Ratshisusu from the Competition Commission and Tshepo Moloi, chief executive of Stokfella were members of the panel discussion. 

The facilitators began with a background on the shared economy and the opportunities that could be presented for individuals who are financially disadvantaged.

The panel consisted of people who started their own businesses and had come to share the challenges they experienced with regulation rules in South Africa. 

The key questions addressed by the panel included the main lessons these individuals learned in starting their businesses, in relation to the constraints of regulation. They discussed the role of regulation in the shared economy, specifically the boundaries of regulation in starting and keeping businesses, and lastly what changes could be made to the regulatory process in South Africa. 

Pandor, said her strategy on regulatory policies was to not pay too much attention to regulatory pitfalls.

“We had an adherence to ethics, even though we did not allow regulations to restrict us,” Pandor said. 

Moloi, founder of Stokfella, pointed out that black people with little money struggled to make it because of the nature of the industry, while even those who had funding produced in the informal economy were also restricted because of lack of a pay slip.

“The industry defines its own rules, which block their own consumers and do not take into account kasinomics,” Moloi said. 

Vuba, focused on small and medium enterprises.

“Often people become disillusioned by the private sector and do not risk starting a business, finding freelancing a safe option in that space”, Vuba said.

The last speaker on the panel was Ratshisusu who was critical of regulation in the shared economy and suggested of how it could be improved.

“Markets must be competitive; they must be easy to enter and equally easy to exit,” Ratshisusu said. “Looking into the transport industry, our laws restrict taxis to municipal boundaries. They operate across [the boundaries], but the laws have not adapted.” 

Referring to points made earlier by Pandor, Ratshisusu suggested there were ways around regulation while remaining within legal frameworks. He emphasised that regulation should be changed instead, to adapt to the nature of businesses. In closing, he said: “We are late bloomers, but we can be early adopters. Let us maximize the opportunities the new economy presents”