ICT Sec­tor Cru­cial to SA Growth, jobs, safety, pros­per­ity

The Star Early Edition - - BUSINESS REPORT - By Musa Nd­langa­mandla

South Africa should in­crease fo­cus and in­vest­ment on In­for­ma­tion Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Tech­nol­ogy (ICT) sec­tors if it is to de­liver on the na­tional agenda for in­clu­sive eco­nomic devel­op­ment, bridg­ing the dig­i­tal divide, sus­tain­able job creation, deal­ing with in­equal­ity and en­sur­ing safer com­mu­ni­ties from vi­o­lent crime, bru­tal­ity and abuse.

This was said by Deputy Min­is­ter of Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions and Postal Ser­vices Stella Nd­abeni-Abra­hams, who ex­plained that be­yond eco­nomic ben­e­fits, the ICT in­dus­try was uniquely po­si­tioned to help build a more so­cially sus­tain­able fu­ture. She said the ICT sec­tor was a cru­cial lever for South Africa as the coun­try moves to­wards the fourth in­dus­trial rev­o­lu­tion char­ac­terised by dig­i­tal tech­nol­ogy which is chang­ing the way peo­ple live, work and run daily tasks.

Deputy Min­is­ter Nd­abeni-Abra­hams said the Depart­ment’s fo­cus this year would be on skills up­grade for young peo­ple and women to po­si­tion them­selves for the fourth in­dus­trial rev­o­lu­tion; strength­en­ing and up­grad­ing the coun­try’s cy­ber­se­cu­rity, bol­ster SMME in the ICT sec­tor into which at least R20 mil­lion has been al­lo­cated this year; trans­form the Uni­ver­sal Ser­vice Fund into the Dig­i­tal Fund; and strength­en­ing of Dig­i­tal econ­omy

She made the re­marks when de­liv­er­ing the Depart­ment’s 2017/18 fi­nan­cial year bud­get vote de­bate in Par­lia­ment re­cently, un­der the theme: ‘Fourth In­dus­trial rev­o­lu­tion and the con­tin­ued pur­suit of in­clu­sive eco­nomic growth through ICTs: In­vest­ing in the youth,’ where she em­pha­sised that the ben­e­fits of such an era would be mean­ing­less if they did not em­power marginal­ized sec­tors like the youth and women, and bol­ster SMME and com­mu­nity en­ter­prises growth.

Deputy Min­is­ter Nd­abeni-Abra­hams high­lighted an­other achieve­ment of the pre­vi­ous year as the com­ple­tion of the process to merge the Na­tional Elec­tronic Me­dia In­sti­tute of South Africa (NEMISA), the e-Skills In­sti­tute (eSI), and the In­sti­tute of Satel­lite Soft­ware Ap­pli­ca­tions (ISSA) to form the Ikamva Na­tional e-Skills In­sti­tute (iNeSI) in or­der to co­or­di­nate and pro­mote e-Skills in South Africa. She said over R126.4 mil­lion was availed for the project which has been com­pleted and the iNeSI Bill will be submitted for Cab­i­net review to com­plete this process, and called on the pri­vate sec­tor to be ac­tively in­volved.

“The en­tity will fur­ther host the na­tional e-Skills Sum­mit this year. An amount of R49 mil­lion has been set aside for the e-skills pro­gramme and ac­tiv­i­ties tar­get­ing the youth, women, SMMEs, peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties in the eight pri­or­ity broad­band districts and Na­tional Health In­surance (NHI) sites,” she said.

Deputy Min­is­ter Nd­abeni-Abra­hams said they had de­vel­oped pro­grammes with lo­cal uni­ver­si­ties for post grad­u­ate and diploma cour­ses in soft­ware devel­op­ment, busi­ness an­a­lyt­ics and busi­ness in­tel­li­gence - the first in­take of learn­ers which will num­ber 5,040 will be this year. She also high­lighted how 50 girl-lean­ers from the East­ern Cape will be trained on ICT in­no­va­tions to ben­e­fit com­mu­ni­ties, which was part of the com­mem­o­ra­tion of the In­ter­na­tional Girls in ICT Day.

Deputy Min­is­ter Nd­abeni-Abra­hams said as part the re­cently con­cluded WEF Africa in Dur­ban the Depart­ment an­nounced South Africa’s adop­tion of the In­ter­net for All which aims to bring mil­lions of South Africans, es­pe­cially those in ru­ral ar­eas, onto the in­ter­net for the first time through pub­lic-pri­vate part­ner­ship and will fo­cus on ad­dress­ing the bar­ri­ers that pre­vent uni­ver­sal in­ter­net ac­cess, par­tic­u­larly to pub­lic schools, li­braries, tribal of­fices, health cen­tres and mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties.

She said to that end the Depart­ment had forged part­ner­ships with multi­na­tion­als as fol­lows:

Google to train 1.1. mil­lion South Africans on dig­i­tal skills. 80 000 have been trained thus far; IBM to train on dig­i­tal skills 5 mil­lion young South Africans over a 5-year pe­riod as part of the 25 mil­lion across Africa; Mi­crosoft pro­vid­ing train­ing to 1 mil­lion peo­ple from Gaut­eng as well as build­ing Africa’s 1st dig­i­tal hub; Cisco con­nect­ing 50 schools with smart tech­nol­ogy called “Spark Board”; Eric­son de­ploy­ing dig­i­tal labs for schools in Mpumalanga, KZN and North­ern Cape; and Fund­ing from UK Depart­ment for In­ter­na­tional Devel­op­ment (DFID) es­ti­mated at 15 mil­lion pounds (close to R300 mil­lion) The Uni­ver­sal Ser­vice and Ac­cess Agency of South Africa will com­plete the en­tire O.R Tambo District Mu­nic­i­pal­ity broad­band roll-out and R30 mil­lion has been al­lo­cated to tackle Nyan­deni, Ngquza Hill, Port St Johns, Im­pen­dle Lo­cal Mu­nic­i­pal­ity and Um­gun­gundlovu District Mu­nic­i­pal­ity.

More­over, three strate­gies have been drafted for pub­lic com­ment namely the e-Strat­egy or Dig­i­tal Strat­egy for South Africa; The e-Gov­ern­ment Strat­egy; and the ICT SMME Sup­port Strat­egy.

“I call upon all young peo­ple to em­power them­selves with ICT skills, ir­re­spec­tive of their field of study. Let us all de­velop a healthy re­la­tion­ship with ICTs and so­cial me­dia in or­der to em­power our­selves and to net­work for de­vel­op­men­tal op­por­tu­ni­ties. The 4th In­dus­trial Rev­o­lu­tion re­quires that each one must be ICT lit­er­ate,” she said.

Stella Nd­abeni-Abra­hams: Deputy Min­is­ter of Depart­ment of Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions and Postal Ser­vices Va­can­cies

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