Multinational professional services network Deloitte senior partner Andrew Lane emphasises the importance of the private sector, particularly the local mining sector, in addressing socioeconomic challenges in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
"The private sector needs to take a proactive role in rescuing the economy because government has neither the funds nor the capacity to address the current challenges. Extractive mining businesses are going to be a significant part of the recovery process," he says.
Lane points out that, historically, large local mining companies have made a significant impact on social and community upliftment by implementing programmes to support their host communities.
He argues that this is likely to become a larger factor going forward, particularly as the stagnating economy has reduced government’s ability to stimulate and support local industries.
He states that with government’s lack of capacity to provide support, there has been a notable increase in its reliance on the mining industry for assistance in providing Covid-19 relief programmes.
This reliance has been increasingly prevalent in mine-affected communities, where local mining companies are an important part of the community’s economy.
Examples of assistance from the mining industry include Covid-19 testing and quarantine assistance, as well as schemes focused on providing resources such as medical equipment, ambulances, doctors and screeners.
“There’s been a shift in the way that the mining industry interacts with government, and I think there's a realisation that the industry and government need to work closely and more productively than they have in the past to ensure an effective response and recovery from Covid-19."
Lane states that government's announcement in February that it would lift restrictions on mines' entitlement to self-generate power could be a catalyst to encourage further cooperation between government and the industry.
He notes the removal of this restriction should lead to a range of energy projects in mining, citing the many local miners that have publicly stated their intention to implement energy projects for self-generation and commercial purposes.
Lane expects topics, such as recovery from Covid-19 across various sectors and energy, will feature significantly at this year’s Joburg Indaba, which will be held as a virtual event on October 7 and 8.
Several Deloitte delegates will attend, with Deloitte MD of emerging markets & Africa Dr Martyn Davies one of the speakers.
Lane states that the event provides an ideal opportunity for Deloitte to interact with important players in the industry.
"It’s usually quite a tight-knit community at the Joburg Indaba. There’s always a good attendance from key executives of mining companies, so it’s a useful opportunity to learn and see how the industry is moving forward. It's also a useful opportunity for us to spend time with our clients."
He adds that the manner in which sessions are conducted at the Indaba allows for robust discussions between key executives, particularly on key issues affecting the industry and the country.
The event’s being hosted online means that delegates will benefit in terms of reduced travel expenses; it might also result in an increased presence of global mining executives, adds Lane.
The latter would enable Deloitte to engage with more clients and continue to assist them in navigating the Covid-19 recovery.
Meanwhile, Deloitte has transitioned to remote services seamlessly, which has enabled the company to deliver most of its ongoing work remotely using digital platforms. This includes implementing significant information technology transformation programmes for clients, and organisational redesign work that it has conducted for its clients.
While certain services still require people to be on site at a mine, Lane states that the transition to providing services remotely will serve the company well in assisting clients.
“We want to take the opportunity to expose our brand. We like to showcase our thinking in discussions where we can learn from our clients, and hopefully they can learn a bit from us,” he concludes.