A new proposed amendment to the Empowerment Charter for the ICT Sector will force all South African websites to have a BEE ownership of at least 30%.
Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies unveiled South Africa’s black economic-empowerment (BEE) code in June 2012, which set a 30% black ownership target for all South African ICT companies.
The information and communication technology (ICT) Charter also requires companies in the ICT sector to spend 5% of their net profit after tax on enterprise development initiatives aimed at boosting black-owned ICT enterprises.
To date there, was no BEE obligation on websites in South Africa, but this is set to change with a new amendment bill tabled in parliament by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).
According to the DTI there is an under-representation of black people in South Africa’s Internet market, and strong government intervention is needed to create a transformed online environment.
Internet Amendment Bill unveiled
The “Internet Amendment Bill”, tabled in Parliament on Thursday 28 March 2013, will require all South African websites and online businesses to abide by the ICT Charter’s 30% BEE ownership requirement.
“All South African websites, hosted locally or internationally, are required to meet the ICT Charter’s 30% black ownership target. Non-compliance will result in a court order issued to take down the website or online businesses until a BEE ownership of 30% could be proven,” the new bill states.
There has already been significant resistance to the proposed “Internet Amendment Bill”, with companies and individuals arguing that their websites are not commercial entities which should become part of any empowerment requirements.
The new bill is open for comment until 28 April 2013, after which it will be finalised and included in the ICT Charter.
The Internet Amendment Bill can be found in full on the Department of Trade and Industry website.