Umlazi – The youth of Umlazi, south of Durban, have been encouraged to use innovation and entrepreneurship to create new jobs and combat unemployment.
“As government we are confident that we have the right polices and frameworks in place to grow the economy, but we need people such as you to take up entrepreneurship, and create the new jobs, services and industries necessary to move South Africa forward,” said Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) Acting Director-General, Phumla Williams.
Williams was speaking on behalf of Communications Minister Ayanda Dlodlo at the official opening of the South Regional Business Fair at KwaMnyandu Shopping Centre taxi rank, in Umlazi Township, on Friday.
Themed the “4th industrial revolution”, the three-day business fair is hosted by eThekwini Municipality.
Williams took the opportunity to share with the youth some of government initiatives such as the Social Accord on Youth Employment and Youth Employment Tax Incentive that is aimed at helping turn the tide of youth unemployment.
She said government and the private sector have established a fund for Small Business Support, with equal contributions from both partners.
The fund provides “venture” capital-type funding and mentoring to target groups, especially black entrepreneurs.
“However, growing our economy and creating much needed jobs is not the sole responsibility of government. It requires all of you present today to work together with government and create an economy that works for everyone,” Williams said.
Panel discussion on youth, township business development
A panel discussion, which was held at the business fair, was attended by Thekwini Mayor Zandile Gumede, World Economic Forum (WEF) youth representative Mandisa Ntombela, as well as trainee beneficiaries of the Digital Terrestrial Television project.
The panellist agreed that the innovation and entrepreneurship have a big role to play in combating youth unemployment in Umlazi.
According to stats, South Africa’s young people between the ages of 15 and 34 are almost three times more likely to be unemployed than other groups.
The high rate of youth unemployment represents a lost opportunity for boosting much-needed economic growth and development in South Africa.
The issues key to youth and township business development were at the forefront during the panel discussion such as expanding on how the Radical Economic Transformation can play a positive role in growing small businesses in the townships.
This event comes at a time when the country marks the 41st anniversary of the Soweto uprising under the theme “The Year of OR Tambo: Advancing Youth Economic Empowerment”.
Take up economic opportunities
Other WEF Africa youth representatives shared their experiences and inspired other young people to take up economic opportunities available to them and contribute towards shaping the future South Africa they want to see.
“Africa has the youngest population globally and the continent is alive with opportunities,” said WEF Africa representative Mandisa Ntombela.
The IMF forecasts that by 2035, Sub-Saharan Africans reaching working age population (15-64), will exceed that of the rest of the world combined, thus bringing about potentially significant implications for economic growth, investment and social development.
Inclusive communication services
Meanwhile, Williams said government’s inclusive communication services have a tangible impact on the lives of all South Africans and are critical for promoting socio-economic transformation.
An inclusive communication service is being facilitated through the Department of Communications, Government Communication and Information System and entities such as the Media Development and Diversity Agency, Brand South Africa, the Film and Publication Board, the SABC and ICASA.