Foray into the rest of the African continent a game-changer for AYO
IOL / 23 MARCH 2020 - 14.44 / SELLO MASHAO RASETHABA
JOHANNESBURG - The Annual General Meeting (AGM) of AYO Technology Solutions has been delayed today as a result of the coronavirus pandemic - at a critical time for the company and for black economic empowerment.
Public companies are required to hold AGMs.
Sello Mashao Rasethaba
However, South Africa will see many AGMs delayed in line with recommendations made by the South African government to inhibit the spread of Covid-19.
According to the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission, AGMs must be held to provide, among others, for presentation of the audited financial statements for the immediately preceding financial year and the appointment of the auditors and the audit committee.
PIC’s transformation agenda
In October 2019, the Public Investment Corporation (PIC), “reacting to a letter received from AYO, backtracked on the allegations made - by its acting executive head of legal, governance and compliance, Lindiwe Dlamini - in Parliament that Sekunjalo Investment Holdings, through AYO, was siphoning PIC-invested funds offshore”.
Now that the report of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into the PIC is out, the PIC must positively contribute to the stability in AYO and assist in building it as a formidable black economic empowered company.
The PIC must go back to its former glory as an agent of transformation when it brought shareholder activism to the fore in South Africa and its executives were not known as the ones who easily shied away from corporate fights in pursuit of inclusive economy.
The IOL website reported in 2010 that then chief executive of the PIC Brian Molefe’s pet subjects “were transformation and exorbitant executive pay". Molefe clashed with Shoprite management over chief executive Whitey Basson’s R59million pay package. This was during the negotiations of a management buyout by Brait Private Capital.”
In 2009, the PIC voted against the Mapitso consortium's participation in Tiger Brand’s black economic empowerment deal, because the group comprised current and former non- executive directors of the company.
In 2007, the PIC took on Barloworld over the lack of transformation at the company. They gave notice that the PIC would be taking a closer look at how executive remuneration levels were determined at the companies in which the PIC had invested.
The PIC had complained that Barloworld had never had a black executive director. At the AGM, Warren Clewlow also announced that Isaac Shongwe, a senior executive in the logistics division, would become the chief executive of Barloworld Logistics Africa and would join Barloworld as an executive director.
Clewlow then said Shongwe, in his capacity as the first black executive director of the group, would also have responsibility for empowerment, transformation and social investment.
During those times the PIC sent out a message to listed companies that “companies that are not transformed as they should be, should take action themselves rather than waiting their turn for us to engage them.” The PIC ruffled feathers. This is the role that we expect the PIC to play in companies they have invested in.
AYO and the defence industry
Business from the African Union is very important for AYO, because of continuing defence budget cuts in South Africa.
On July 17, 2019, the IOL website reported that Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said the defence budget cuts were making the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) more unsustainable.
Briefing the media ahead of her budget vote speech, Mapisa-Nqakula said the department had been continuously forced to adjust its plans downwards in response to the declining budget.
“The defence force is becoming progressively more unsustainable in terms of declining defence allocations. We have now reached the point where the Republic must decide on the kind of defence force it wants and what it can afford,” she said.
In the upcoming AYO AGM, one of the highlights will be discussing the investment it made in Global Command and Control Technologies (GC²T) in March 2017.
GC²T is a leading technology provider for enabled awareness solutions across the commercial, security and military domains for the past 20 years.
Its solutions include asset and force tracking across the globe (land, air or maritime); integrated situational awareness pictures to support managers, leaders and commanders to make informed and timeous decisions; constructive simulation technology to do planning, optimisation and rehearsal from ground level to mission HQs, operations centres and war rooms.
African Equity Empowerment Investments together with AYO now hold 100percent of the shares in the new company, called GC²T.
GC²T has existed in various forms since 1982, when it was moved out of the then Andromeda (state-owned) into the Altech Group as the first phase of establishment of a national command and control strategy of the SANDF.
AYO is working hard to find business opportunities offering its products and competence and is looking at African Union (AU) possibilities.
In 2019, the AU awarded the “Provision of command, control, communication and information for Task Force MNJTF (Multi-National Joint Task Force)” to Saab Grintek with development aid from the EU. Saab divested the Command Control Training & Simulation business from its subsidiary, Saab Grintek Defence in South Africa.
On August 1, 2016, the European Commission issued a statement on the Joint Communiqué by Federica Mogherini, EU High Representative and vice-president of the commission; Neven Mimica, EU Commissioner for International Co-operation and Development; and Smail Chergui, AU Commissioner for Peace and Security.
The agreement was about a 50million (R939.5m) support from the EU’s “African Peace Facility” to the MNJTF. It was also stated that the support will allow for the construction and maintenance of MNJTF headquarters in Ndjamena, Chad, as well as of sector headquarters in Cameroon and Niger.
The aid would also provide transport and communication assets to the force headquarters, allowing for effective co-ordination and command of military operations. These assets, including vehicles, aerial transportation and reconnaissance capacities and a command, control, communication and information system, would put the central command in a position to co-ordinate operations among troop contributing countries in their respective territories.
President Cyril Ramaphosa on assuming the chair of the AU for 2020 in an acceptance speech said it was the task for all African countries to build an Africa that was prosperous and at peace with itself.
He further said that African countries must strive to deepen the unity of the continent and advance “inclusive economic growth and sustainable development".
The investment by AYO in GC²T will play a significant role in that regard. One of the Flagship Projects of AU’s Agenda 2063 is “Silencing the guns by 2020.”
To achieve the goals of Agenda 2063, Africa needs to work towards ending all wars, civil conflicts, gender-based violence, violent conflicts and preventing genocide.
Sello Mashao Rasethaba is a director of both AYO Technology Solutions and Global Command and Control Technologies and writes in his personal capacity.
Disclaimer - The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the BEE CHAMBER