The National Skills Fund is expected to launch a training package in digital skills for unemployed youth in South Africa, President Cyril Ramaphosa said in his weekly newsletter.
The move is aimed at ensuring South Africans are able to use their skills to take advantage of employment and economic opportunities.
“To boost the job creation potential of these investments, the National Skills Fund will soon launch a new model for demand-led skills development, which will provide R800-million to fund training for unemployed young people in digital skills.
“As we look to foster increased investment over the next five years, as the structural reform process continues to gather pace and as measures to end the energy crisis bear fruit, we will be able to further position ourselves at the forefront of the digital economy in Africa,” Ramaphosa said in the newsletter.
He said that over the last five years, significant investments have been made in the country’s digital economy. At the recent South Africa Investment Conference (SAIC), companies pledged R81-billion to ICT and digital services projects in the country, bringing the total amount invested specifically in ICT since the first SAIC to some R200-billion,” he claimed.
“The [conference] … provided a huge boost to the country’s digital economy. In addition to significant investment commitments in data and telecommunications infrastructure, there were also announcements about investments in the mining, manufacturing, energy, property, logistics, and the food and beverages sectors.
‘Important for growth’
“While all these investments contribute to economic growth and job creation, the investments in the digital economy will, in addition, propel our country into a new era of innovation and progress. Not only is the digital economy important for growth, but it is also vital to the provision of key services such as education, social services and healthcare.
“Several recent tech surveys indicate that higher speeds and improved mobile and fibre infrastructure are helping to narrow the digital divide. This is the result of stepped-up investment in the digital economy in recent years. Faster fibre and 5G roll-out makes our economy more competitive as more connectivity solutions help businesses emerge and expand,” Ramaphosa said.
However, load shedding is hampering the growth of the ICT sector, the president said.
“To take advantage of this inward investment and see it increase, we have to urgently resolve the electricity crisis and the theft and destruction of ICT infrastructure.
“We are also forging ahead with the structural reforms that are so critical to efforts to improve our economic competitiveness. For example, the conclusion last year of the first high-demand spectrum auction in over a decade will substantially increase connectivity and lower the costs of both voice and data services,” he said.