In my work, I have interacted with various groups, from the elders to the youth. These two groups have different views on the importance of technology in our lives and as we commemorate Youth Day, how can the country empower the young through available technologies?
The elderly segment of our society is more inclined to use technology mainly for work, while for the youth it’s part of their very existence they are leading technology-driven lifestyles.
South Africa is faced with looming social challenges, like any other developing nation. The accelerated influence of the global community is real and here. The country has a young and energetic population which is hungry for opportunities. South Africa has over the past decade experienced a change in behaviour and values, and the populace wants opportunities sooner rather than later. This is where I believe all technology offerings will become paramount.
The government and the private sector will need to group together and deliver a compelling case to the nation, particularly the youth.
Among other issues facing the youth as we celebrate the foundation laid in 1976, is economic emancipation and a reasonable share of the economic benefits which came with independence in 1994. But the reality is that this will not be delivered on a silver platter. Under these circumstances working smart becomes paramount; ICT solutions then become a factor. The South African youth must embrace the responsibility of being critiqued and be able to infiltrate the echelons of power and pose relevant and critical demands.
To achieve this, social networks have become the discussion centre on these matters, and social media is here and staying. These platforms have transformed the rules of engagement. Not only has it created successful entrepreneurs, it has now encouraged a new culture among politicians: honesty and not taking people’s concerns for granted.
The ongoing Middle East revolutions are there for us to see what these social platforms have done for democracy.
Opportunities are far and wide for young people and ICT provides a clear path for the country to satisfy the hunger of the majority.
The Department of Communications (DOC) recently revealed its ICT strategy for the next three years, which it hopes will address the aspirations of the country.
The country already has a sophisticated ICT infrastructure compared to the rest of the continent, and this then sets South Africa up to become the epitome of success and in turn create much-needed employment.
The DOC has expressed a strong focus on ICT development, policy implementation and skills.
The reality is, the key to these goals is anchored in strong private sector participation; the government is seeking stability to its public sector entities, building an integrated national broadband plan, and building a people-centred inclusive information society and knowledge-based economy. These demands require skills; this then provides an opportunity for young, enterprising men and women in the country.
For techno-savvy people this is the opportunity to make your mark. For those dreaming of being in ICT but lacking the skills, the government is working with universities and FET colleges in an effort to contribute to the ICT skills base and increase access to, and uptake of, ICT.
Empowering youths with the latest ICT solutions has become one of the tenets of developing a future healthy base world over. ICT has become vital, the key to boost the economy as it encourages SMEs to grow through e-commerce based solutions.
The growth of e-commerce is expected to turn into a multi-billion rand industry. According to a recent report by BuzzCity, one of world’s leading mobile media companies in the development and marketing of mobile services and entertainment to a global audience, e-commerce is expected to be pushed high in Africa by mobile-savvy consumers who wish to use their gadgets for more, including banking and purchases.
The report said South Africa and Kenya are more techno-savvy and make use of e-commerce and m-commerce, with 46% of Kenyan and 43% of South African users preferring purchases via mobile internet, fixed internet and telephone.
Last year there were 3.6 million people who had been online for five years or more. By 2015, that figure will be 6.8 million – almost double the potential e-commerce market of today. This was shown recently by Arthur Goldstuck, one of the country’s finest technological brains.
Mentorship and opportunities are the demands of the youth today. The government and the private sector have to work together to equip the youth with ICT application tools which can revitalise and boost their education, introducing sustainable and proven strategies which can act as a catalyst and help them design, think, establish and manage their own business.
Happy Youth Day to you, but as we celebrate let’s think and work smart through the comprehensive adoption of available technologies.