President Cyril Ramaphosa says 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.

Speaking to the Youth at the Mthatha 4IR Youth Expo at St John’s College on Thursday, the President said that South Africa needs to invest in the skills of its people from the earliest age.

“We need to invest in transportation and communications networks that move goods and information quickly and seamlessly,” he said.

The President said that the 4IR Youth Expo is demonstrating the very many opportunities that exist right now for young people and that is thanks to technology.

At the same time, he said that this is preparing the youth for the opportunities that still lie ahead.

“It is our shared responsibility to ensure that all the young people of this country have the skills, knowledge and desire to seize these opportunities and to thereby realise their great potential,” the President said.

Access to Data

Turning to data access and costs, President Ramaphosa said that it has emerged as one of the most significant barriers to digital equality and access.

He said that South Africa has some of the highest data costs on the continent.

“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.

“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 into the supply chains of large companies,” he said.

The President added that this is about every young person who no longer must leave their home town to seek new opportunity, because opportunity is right there on their doorstep.

To make this happen, he said that government is investing in research and the development of emerging technologies and applications.

“As so many young people know, access to broadband by itself won’t make an entrepreneur more successful, or a learner smarter, or a citizen more informed. It takes hard work, it takes late nights and it takes hustle,” the President said.

The President told the youth that these are all important elements of success and everyone has a responsibility to guarantee all young people the access they need for them to meet their full potential.

The statesman emphasised that every young South African deserves access to the world’s information.

“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,” he said.

The President is in Mthatha, Eastern Cape, leading Youth Day Commemorations under the theme “Promoting sustainable livelihood and resilience of young people for a better tomorrow”.

He will give a keynote address at the Mthatha Stadium this afternoon.

Source: South African Government News Agency