MAHMOOD SANGLAY reports on the second strategic planning session of the South African Halal Development Council (SAHDC) for stakeholders of the Halaal sector.
The meeting, held on September 19, was attended by nine members at the Garlandale Madrasah, in Cape Town, and five others who joined the meeting virtually from remote locations.
The SAHDC was formally established in 2019, emerging from the Interim Halal Coordinating Council, which was previously a consultative forum associated with the Western Cape’s Department of Economic Development and Tourism.
It is now a registered NPO focusing on the broader governance and integrity of Halaal matters in South Africa. The council is currently ensuring that all administrative and strategic functions of the NPO are achieved.
The council is chaired by Amina Abrahams. The other exco members are Kamal Salasa (vice chairperson), Uthman Rhoda (treasurer), Mymoena Arnold (administrator) and Dilshad Parker (public relations officer).
The sectors represented at the strategy session were agriculture, media, agri-processing, science, finance and fashion.
The exco of the council is expected to draft terms of reference to determine the challenges in each of these sectors and then appoint subcommittees to engage representatives of the sectors with a view to aligning interests of the latter with the vision of the council.
The vision of the SAHDC is to ‘be the pre-eminent contributor to economic growth in South Africa’ in all Halaal-relevant economic sectors. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, this challenge is magnified and demands the agility to balance economic growth with the campaign to flatten the pandemic’s curve.
The council had been occupied with various activities during the lockdown. These include engagement with the Coronavirus SME relief guide, participating in Greenhouse Foundation and Small Enterprise Development Agency webinars, requests for information on small business development, a business accelerator course, an entrepreneurs’ conference and food safety training.
Impact of COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic has had an adverse impact on the global economy.
However, some economic research reports indicate that although the pandemic continues to transform the growth of various industries, the immediate impact of the outbreak is varied.
While a few industries will register a drop in demand, numerous others will continue to remain unscathed and show promising growth opportunities.
According to the economic research agency Technavio, the Halaal food market will witness a ‘Positive and Superior’ impact during the forecast period owing to the extensive rise of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Research reports publishing on the global Halaal market is a vibrant enterprise and access to the research is costly, ranging from US$1 000 to US$3 000.
However, the Annual State of the Global Islamic Economy Report 2020/ 2021 is due soon and is much anticipated due to the comprehensive coverage of all the major sectors, namely food and beverages, finance, travel and tourism, cosmetics, fashion, media and entertainment.
The global Halaal market is a construct founded on the divinely ordained, and therefore, sacred set of precepts on Halaal in the Quran. In this sense, the spiritual origins and the exclusive ownership of Halaal by the Muslim ummah is beyond dispute and is envisaged to remain an abiding integral feature of Halaal.
Therefore, the SAHDC regards the legacy of 1442 years of Halaal intellectual property as the key to the global Halaal market worth of over US$1,8 trillion. As a commercial opportunity the SAHDC regards Halaal as the rightful asset of the ummah that must serve the interests, particularly the commercial interests, of all Muslims.
However, any benefit from and access to the global Halaal market, its production, its marketing and its consumption, are broadly inclusive of all people, irrespective of faith.
According to Professor Ebrahim Arnold, the former chairperson of the SAHDC, Halaal should be a catalyst for developmental change.
History of engagement
The SAHDC has emerged from years of meaningful engagement between Muslims and the Provincial Government of the Western Cape (PGWC) since 2014.
At the time, the PGWC launched Project Khulisa as the economic growth strategy of the province. The project was conceived to identify and stimulate sectors in the provincial economy that have the greatest potential for accelerated and sustained growth and job creation.
The sectors identified by Project Khulisa were oil, gas, tourism and agri-processing. Halaal is relevant to the latter two sectors because they are integral to the ambitious plan to exploit the vast opportunities in the global Halaal industry for the benefit of the provincial economy.
The PGWC published its Investment Case for Halaal in 2016, followed by a Halaal Value Chain Analysis in the same year. In addition, feasibility studies were released for the three proposed Halaal industrial park sites in Lynedoch, Klapmuts and the airport.
Muslim stakeholders who attended the various PGWC consultative forum meetings engaged the government on issues like its terms of reference, the economic transformation agenda, regulation of the halaal certification industry and the inclusion of the broader Muslim national interests on Halaal.
While the government has a vision for the deployment of Halaal for economic growth, the SAHDC is strategically positioning itself to ensure that this occurs in a manner consistent with its vision.
Featured image: A Halaal butcher in Copenhagen, Denmark. The Halaal market is a global one founded on the divinely ordained, and therefore, sacred set of precepts on Halaal in the Quran. (Photo WWW.123RF.COM)
This article was first published in the October 2020 print edition of Muslim Views.