Government is investing in the research and development of emerging technologies and applications in an effort to create job opportunities for young people.
This is according to president Cyril Ramaphosa, who addressed Youth Day celebrations yesterday. He said the jobs of the future lie in technology, and in order to attract the newest industries, the country needs to invest in cutting-edge science and innovation.
“It is our shared responsibility to ensure all the young people of this country have the skills, knowledge and desire to seize these opportunities and to thereby realise their great potential.”
Every year, SA commemorates the Soweto youth uprising of 16 June 1976, and this year marks the 46th anniversary of the student uprising.
Yesterday, Ramaphosa, who has been pushing for wide-scale broadband through SA Connect, the ambitious government internet project, also lamented the cost of data, calling it a significant impediment to digital equality and access.
“By simply lowering data costs, young people are more readily able to access information, and seek learning and earning opportunities. This isn’t just about cheaper or faster internet or having access to social media,” he said.
“It’s about connecting every corner of South Africa to the digital age. It’s about a rural community in Limpopo or Eastern Cape, where farmers can monitor weather across the province and market their produce across the globe.
“It’s about an entrepreneur with a great idea she hopes to sell to the supply chains of large companies.”
The president’s concern at the high cost of data comes as government has been mulling plans to develop new models to provide affordable, high-speed internet to low-income households.
Yesterday, Ramaphosa emphasised the need to guarantee digital access to all young people for them to meet their full potential.
“For two years in a row, South Africa has been named as the leading global destination for investment in the business process centres, better known as call centres. That is why we are working with our partners to develop this industry.”
The business process outsourcing (BPO) sector has been identified as one of the green shoots that will steer economic reconstruction and recovery.
With SA’s unemployment rate now the highest in the world, the BPO industry has been tipped as a catalyst for the country’s employment prospects. It is targeting 500 000 new jobs by 2030, based on industry estimates.
In Cape Town alone, the BPO sector has attracted R3.4 billion worth of investments over the last three years, fuelling economic growth and employment in the city.