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David Makhura on the importance of technology in empowering Gauteng's youth

26 February 2018 9:16 PM

Excerpts from the Premier's State of the Province Address 2018

Excerpt from Premier David Makhura's 2018 State of the Province Address

The new dawn must also inspire the young people of our province to dream big and aspire to live in a province, a country and a world where there is equality, economic freedom, prosperity for all social and environmental justice.

The youth must follow the wise counsel of President Nelson Mandela that _“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”_They should know that there is no shortcut to self-development and self-empowerment. Education is an act of love.

Through education young people will be empowered to play a meaningful role in society and pursue their dreams, regardless of the circumstances of their birth.

As part of preparing our children for a better future, the Gauteng Provincial Government has achieved 95% universal access to Grade R.

Providing all children with early childhood development opportunities is part of the South African dream espoused in our National Development Plan.

With regard to basic education, Gauteng runs the second largest public education system after Kwa-Zulu Natal, with enrolment having grown from 1.3 million in 1994 to 2.3 million in 2018.

Gauteng has also consistently been among the best performing provinces on basic education. Our throughput rate is above 70%. In the 2017 Grade 12 results, Gauteng came second after Free State, while seven of our districts were in the top 10 nationally.

The most significant improvement in our basic education system is evident in the turnaround of township schools and the overall performance of learners from townships, especially in gateway subjects such as Mathematics, Science, Technology, Economics and Accounting.

Madame Speaker, Gauteng is the only province that offers all the 11 official languages and 7 international languages. This is consistent with the cosmopolitan and diverse character of our province, which we embrace with both hands. Gauteng is truly the home for all.

As part of preparing our children for the future, in particular for the digital industrial revolution, Gauteng is the leader in the deployment of digital technology for learning and teaching.

The deployment of digital technology has significantly raised the level of interest and has improved digital skills among learners in our public education system.

In 2017, our province was awarded a Gold prize for artisan skills development by the National Skills Authority, with KwaZulu-Natal in second place. This was in recognition of the effort we are putting in vocational training which responds to the needs of the economy. Our schools of specialisation represent a major intervention.

Over the past five years, Gauteng government has spent R1 billion on bursaries which have benefitted more than 20 000 graduates. We will continue to invest more resources in the training and development of young people in Gauteng, the province of dreamers.

We welcome the introduction of free higher education for students from working class and poor family backgrounds. This is truly the dawn of a new era for many parents and young people who have been denied access to higher education simply on the basis of the circumstances of their birth.

Several generations of students fought pitched battles in pursuit of this dream of fee-free further and higher education.

Now the ball is in the court of the students themselves, who must work hard to complete their studies so that they do not betray the struggles and sacrifices made over many decades.

As I have said before, youth unemployment is the most acute and primary economic problem of our time. Economics shall fall if it fails to answer the question of how we resolve youth unemployment. Politics will have no future relevance if youth are left out.

In Gauteng, there are close to 2 million young people who are neither in employment, in education nor in training. Some of them are on the verge of losing hope, while others have drifted to crime and other social ills such as drug and substance abuse.

In response to the problem of drug and substance abuse, we launched _Ke Moja campaign _which has now reached more than 1 million young people, encouraging them to live clean and drug-free lives.

Gauteng is also taking the lead in addressing youth unemployment and youth development. It is for this reason that we introduced this large scale and massive programme, Tshepo 1 Million, as an intervention to open opportunities with regard to demand-led skills development, job placement and entrepreneurship for the youth of Gauteng.

This ground-breaking partnership between the Gauteng Provincial Government, Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator and more than 40 major private sector corporations is a living example of a social compact.

Since 2015, nearly 460 000 young people have benefitted from the Tshepo 500 000 flagship programme. This programme has now been upgraded and rebooted into Tshepo 1 Million so that we can change the lives of many more young people in our province and give them hope.

The call made by President Ramaphosa to place the unemployed youth in paid internships in companies across the economy, will inject momentum to the work we are already doing on Tshepo 1 Million. We can get more companies to lend a hand and give our youth a chance.

As part of addressing structural youth unemployment, we are aligning education and training to meet the needs of the new economy.

We have a partnership with technology companies to train large numbers of young people in digital skills so that they can take advantage of employment and entrepreneurial opportunities in the digital economy.

The 4th Industrial Revolution is upon us. It is fundamentally transforming the way we live, work and relate to one another. It offers enormous opportunities and some challenges, and we need to be prepared for it.

The World Economic Forum estimates that 65% of children entering primary school will find themselves in occupations that do not exist today.

It is estimated that over 35% of current jobs in South Africa and Gauteng in particular, will change and others will disappear completely.

The economy is transitioning to knowledge intensive industries, with the average ICT intensity of jobs in South Africa having increased by 20% over the past decade.

As part of getting ready for the fourth industrial revolution, the Gauteng Provincial Government has invested public money in the creation of broadband infrastructure towards the goal of 100% broadband connectivity in Gauteng by 2020.To date, we have connected over 1 500 kilometres of network fibre, with 1 066 access sites, connecting schools, health facilities, libraries and community centres.

Through eKasiLabs Innovation Centres, we are supporting entrepreneurs and youth with their innovations and fast-tracking the establishment of sustainable and innovative businesses in townships.

Honourable Members, during my many visits to firms as part of Ntirhisano, I met black entrepreneurs who own companies that are involved in cutting edge innovation and globally competitive advanced manufacturing activities.

For instance, Teddy Daka runs ANSYS which is a black-owned cyber security company that is among the major new players in the global cyber security industry. We as South Africa are not paying enough attention to cyber security whereas other countries are very keen to deploy ANSYS capabilities to solve their problems.

I also visited TUB, a Black women-owned software company run by two women: Ms Thuthu Khumalo and Ms Nana Sabelo. This company has developed advanced defense information technology systems for some of South East Asia’s economic tigers. This is a young but very promising business in the digital economy. It trains and employs mainly young people. Women are certainly taking a lead in the digital economy.

In December last year, I also visited a South African black-owned technology company, DARTCOM, which manufactures fibre optics in Watloo near Mamelodi. This is another amazing story of the 4th industrial revolution and digital economy unfolding in our province, involving an entrepreneur from the township of Mamelodi; Mr Khudusela Pitje.

Amongst others, Khudusela also runs a renewable energy business in Atteridgeville, another new sector of the economy of the future. He is part of that special crop of entrepreneurs that are bringing new industries of the future into the township economy. We are delighted that Mr Pitje has committed to training and placing 1000 young people in his businesses this year. He is truly lending a hand to open pathways for our youth.

Teddy, Thuthu, Nana and Khudusela are here with us today to say: please send me as we prepare our country for the fourth industrial revolution.

I also acknowledge my Special Guests of Honour - my dream team of young innovators and future inventors from the Sci-Bono clubhouse, a member of the MIT-based Clubhouse Network representing Grade 10 & 11 learnersin inner-city and township schools - Sifiso Nkabinde, Carlos Kanyemba, Favor Okwara, Perfect Zikhali, Ayanda Shongwe and Sandile Ndlovu.

These young dreamers inspire me greatly. They are already involved in the Internet of Things and artificial intelligence andare involved in learning and applying coding language, software engineering and the development of applications that are used in the advanced manufacturing of machines. They are my heroes! They are the future!

I would like to congratulate the South African-born Elon Musk, who recently launched the first of nearly 12 000 ‘Starlink’ satellites that could bring super-fast internet access to the world. Elon is very proud of his link with our country, our province and our capital city, Tshwane. Elon, please lend a hand in linking our economy to some of the world’s best innovation ecosystems so that we are not left behind.

As the Gauteng government, we have already had engagements with cutting edge innovators based at the Silicon Valley in San Francisco, USA, as part of enhancing our innovation ecosystem.

Accordingly, we have enlisted the support of the Ghanaian-born African American, Dr Thomas Mensah - who is a world–acclaimed inventor who pioneered the deployment of fibre optics technology in information and communication systems, giving rise to the current digital revolution. Dr Mensah will help us to take The Gauteng Innovation Hub to the next level.

We are also working with our own technology entrepreneur and businessman, Dr Andile Ngcaba, who is mentoring young innovators and incubating technology start-up companies at the Silicon Valley. This year, we will send twenty tech-preneurs to Sillicon Valley.

Let us have the courage to dream big again and act with compassion.

Madame Speaker, I dream of a provincial economy where the needs, aspirations and energies of the majority of our people constitute the creative force for change and transformative economic growth.

If Gauteng is the hub of South Africa’s economy, the townships are the heartbeat of Gauteng. I dream of the townships being spaces where there is a vibrant culture and dynamic local economies underpinned by state-of-the-art infrastructure.

Listen to this part of the Premier's speech here -

Listen to the full SOPA 2018 here -

26 February 2018 9:16 PM


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