Network organisation the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) celebrated 160 years of operation at its annual gala dinner last month. More than 900 guests were in attendance, hosted at corporate tables acquired by major companies in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal.
The platinum sponsor of the event was mobile network provider Vodacom and it was held at the Durban International Convention Centre. Attendees were addressed in ball gowns and traditional wear suits with masks, which provided many red-carpet photo opportunities. The KwaZulu-Natal Fashion Council collaborated with the DCCI to dress a selection of their board members in appropriate style.
A nostalgic tribute to Durban’s growth and development over the last 160 years set the celebratory mood for the evening’s programme, which included thought-provoking speeches interspersed with an outstanding variety of dance, music and signing performances. Event organisers Makulu Event Producers ensured that the evening was one to remember.
“Observing the 160 years’ milestone demands a reflection of the past and a clear plan for the next century. It’s about looking forward and saying to ourselves: What will it be like doing business in Durban 160 years from now?” says DCCI CEO Dumile Cele.
She asked guests to take part in the #DurbanMustRise social media campaign. She explained that the DCCI wanted to kick-start a wave of goodwill, support and confidence in Durban.
Cele pointed out that Durban had recently been voted the best place in South Africa in which to live. The social media campaign already boasts support from leaders in business, civil society, labour and government. Everyone in Durban is requested to check daily how they can make use of the resources at their disposal and make a conscious effort to work together.
“In order to make our beautiful city a champion of commerce and [make] business stand tall and proud, the hashtag #DurbanMustRise has been created for this campaign,” she explained.
DCCI president Zeph Ndlovu noted that the chamber had endured and had to transform itself over the years in order to remain relevant.
“The chamber has the largest membership-based council in Africa and is possibly the second- largest chamber in the world. It intends to continue to ‘lead the charge’ and inspire hope and confidence in the future for today’s school children. It is essential to get economic fundamentals right in order to achieve growth,” he explained.
Emphasising that businesses needed to question whether or not they were part of the solution or part of the problem, sugar producer Tongaat Hulett CEO and keynote speaker Peter Staude stressed the call to action in order to ensure progress when dealing with current societal and developmental issues facing South Africa.
“Companies have to think carefully about their corporate social investment programmes. In many cases, employers also need to be aware of the challenges facing employees outside the workplace. It is necessary to start a conversation and devise innovative solutions to co-opt and inspire employees at all levels,” explained Staude.
Vodacom is an active supporter of the chamber movement, both regionally and nationally, because chambers of commerce and industry create connections amongst captains of industry, Vodacom enterprise business unit chief officer Vuyani Jarana noted at the event. This created a platforum to share ideas in the pursuit of greater social progress.
“It is the captains of industry gathered at this event who must innovate, grow the economy and create jobs for our youth. Every enterprise has to do more to address the challenges many African economies face today,” explained Jarana.
He pointed out that sustainable development goals in the areas of education, healthcare and agriculture would have a significant socioeconomic impact on all African economies. Vodacom understood that information and communication technology-enabled interventions would impact positively in these three key areas of the economy.
“At Vodacom we continue to repurpose our technology to address major social issues faced by governments, industry and our clients at large. We reinvest your money to transform economies on the continent,” concluded Jarana.