Address by the Honourable Minster of Communications, Ms Dina Pule, MP, at the Nkangala District Municipality Women’s Summit on Growing Local Economic Development to Women
4 Oct 2012
Honourable Deputy Minister Social Development, Ms Maria Ntuli
MPL, Ms Nomsa Mtsweni
Executive Mayor of Nkangala District Municipality, Mr Speed Mashilo
Executive Mayors of municipalities in the District
Speakers and Chief Whips
Business and Mining Houses
Ladies and gentlemen,
Sanibonani Nonke! Lishonile!
I am pleased to be sharing this night with my fellow women leaders. Women such as you are driving change in our country. I am also glad that this Women’s Summit meets under the theme of “Growing Economic Development to Women.” Central to our role of leadership is improving the lot of other women. Ensuring their financial freedom is a huge element of this.
The Department of Communications, like many other government departments, is dedicated to improving the quality of life of all South Africans, including that of women. We have a very strong women leadership in the department with myself the Deputy Minister and the Director-General being women. This has ensured that the gender focus is not lost in the programmes and projects of the department.
On Tuesday we hosted our Proof of Concept launch for Digital Terrestrial Television or DTT as it is also known.
In keeping with international norms we are switching from analogue broadcasting to digital broadcasting. What this simply means is that all South Africans will need a decoder or Set Top Box (STB) to receive the digital signal.
We are ensuring that poor South Africans who qualify will receive a 70 percent subsidy towards the cost of the decoder. 5 million of the poorest South Africans will benefit from this subsidy. These Set Top Boxes will be distributed through the South African Post Office.
The change to digital broadcasting will enable more television channels to be broadcast and will eventually allow for improved broadband access on mobile devices. This will translate into more opportunities for content development. This entails the production of more television programmes.
The SABC (South African Broadcasting Corporation) will soon launch its 24-hour news channel and it is essential that we use it to tell South African stories and not just let it be a channel for repeats. These stories need to be told by people like us. Our country has many success stories and it is vital that we let the world know about them.
We are also looking at channels for health, education and sport. Women should be at the forefront of creating women-specific content, which deals with issues particular to women.
Cervical cancer, for example, remains extremely high among women in South Africa and may affect as many as one in 34 South African women. Yet a simple pap smear test and regular gynaecological check-ups can detect this. The cancer is usually diagnosed when at an advanced stage. Content created around this can warn women about the dangers of cervical cancer, which kills approximately 3 000 women each year. The content industry has the potential to create 10 000 jobs and women need to seek out opportunities in this sector and tell our stories.
The digital migration process will create jobs in other sectors as well. We are working to ensure that rural and underserviced areas are not left out of this job creation epidemic. We envisage that at least 24 000 jobs will be created in total.
The manufacture of Set-Top Boxes will create 800 jobs. We hope that this serves as a catalyst to revitalise the local electronics manufacturing industry with a view to servicing the South African and African market.
20 000 youth will be trained in the installation and maintenance of Set Top Boxes and eventually four to six thousand jobs will be created here.
Four thousand call centre operators will be employed to deal with queries relating to STBs. The SA Post Office will have to hire an additional 500 staff to assist with the distribution of STBs.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The Department of Communications has committed to achieving 100 percent broadband access by 2020. We realise that improved broadband access serves as a catalyst for economic growth. I am aware that cellphone and data charges are still too high in our country.
We are working with the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) to bring down the cost to communicate. ICASA is conducting a study which will indicate to us as government whether we need to intervene through strengthening regulation or not. This study will be completed in the first half 2013.
It is vital that we facilitate economic development by reducing the cost to communicate. With cheaper communications, we want women in the Nkangala District Municipality to be able to consider trends in their business fields and find the cheapest supplier for their products.
They can then use the Internet to sell their goods at the best price. The Department of Trade and Industry in association with Vodacom, the Human Resources Development Council of South Africa and Google allows small businesses to develop their own websites in an easy-to-use manner. You can find more information on Woza Online at http://www.wozaonline.co.za.
We must use Information and communications technology (ICT) to fight crime and corruption. We need to create a safer environment for all entrepreneurs to prosper, especially women.
Women must aspire to own security firms that use CCTV technology to protect our centres of business. In this way, they will be able to use technology to fight crime in a manner that addresses areas that are of most concern to them.
I know many of our older generation are reluctant to use cellphones. It is important that we teach them to use SMS so that they can keep in touch with each other. The recent attacks and rape of older women are distressing. We need to utilise the ICT at our fingertips to keep each other safe.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The Department of Communications has a unit that aims to ensure that our ICT initiatives do not lose their gender focus. We have developed a Young Women in ICT Programme. The aim of the programme is to provide a platform for young women to discuss their empowerment and to raise interest in ICTs amongst young Women.
The programme assembles 100 young women from all nine provinces, particularly young women from rural areas. These young women range in ages from 17 to 25 and are from Grades 11-12, Universities and Universities of Technology, Further Education and Training (FET) Colleges and other Community Organisations.
It is vital that we move away from the traditional roles and occupations that women usually enter. The ICT field is awash with opportunities and we cannot have women only occupy professions in this sector, such as that of a Website Manager.
As the Department of Communications we have formulated a Youth and ICT Strategy. The e-Cadre programme stems from this and is being implemented in partnership with 15 FET Colleges nationally. The training component of the programme embraces the globally recognised International Computer Driving Licence (ICDL).
The department is currently training 150 young people through five rurally-based FET Colleges. These e-Cadres have completed their matric and are between 18-25 years of age.
Once the ICDL is completed they will be placed for 6 months at establishments such as clinics, schools and other public service institutions. They gain both life skills and work experience in the process. Thus far 872 young people have been trained and 192 have gone through to the service deployment phase and have been placed at institutions.
As South Africans we look to government to be a big brother or sister and expect assistance in everything we do. We need to look beyond government. I think we are used to an education system that trains us to be employees rather than employers.
The 2011 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) SA reports that young South Africans are less interested in entrepreneurship than their counterparts overseas. Only 6.8% of South Africans between the ages of 18 and 24 were entrepreneurs, while between the ages of 25 and 34 only 10.2% are entrepreneurs.
Generation Y, those born between 1980 and 1995, in Brazil and China are approximately two to three times more likely to be entrepreneurs then South Africans of a similar age.
The GEM report indicates that youth unemployment in South Africa stands at 48.2 percent. In the current economic climate with the constant threat of a second global recession we need to encourage our youth to seek alternative forms of employment and provide them with the tools to succeed.
Many of today’s large ICT companies such as Apple and Microsoft grew from seeds of entrepreneurship. We need to take initiatives and risks to ensure that we develop our own businesses. We need to move away from being a nation of employees to a nation of employers.
I thank you.
Issued by: Department of Communications
4 Oct 2012
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