3 March 2014
President Jacob Zuma has called on young South Africans to dream big and to help the country move towards meaningful economic emancipation, saying that youth development and empowerment was “critical to the success of our democracy”.
“You must dream about a prosperous South Africa; we dreamt about freedom and it happened,” Zuma said in his address to the Presidential Youth Indaba on Jobs and Skills in Boksburg, east of Johannesburg on Sunday.
Zuma said the government was investing heavily in education and skills development, which were key to enabling young peopleto run the country’s economy.
“To date over 8 000 youth have been assisted to rewrite their matric,” he said. “The results in 2013 were an impressive 78% pass rate.
“At the level of higher education, 12% of our population now hold a postgraduate qualification, up from 7% in 1996. Student enrolments at colleges have increased by 90%. There are increases in enrolments at universities and universities of technology as well.
Zuma said South Africa had to build an inclusive economy that created jobs, but importantly also one that reflected the demographics of the country. He said the ownership, control and management of the economy had to be changed, working with business, labour and the community sector.
While ownership of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange had changed only slightly since 1994, Zuma welcomed the fact that over R600-billion in black economic empowerment transactions had been recorded since 1995, while the percentage of black people and women in senior management had increased from less than 10% in the 1990s to over 40% today.
National Development Plan
Zuma asked the young conference delegates to start thinking about their contribution to growing an inclusive economy and to moving the country forward, and to familiarise themselves with the government’s long-term strategy for job creation and poverty reduction, the National Development Plan (NDP),
“Within the NDP are some instruments that we want you to know and understand very well as young people,” he said.
The President noted that the youth had pointed out issues of concern, such as work experience and finding the first funding to become an entrepreneur, adding that he was pleased that the heads of funding agencies like the Small Enterprise Finance Agency (Sefa) were in attendance at the Indaba.
In the past year, the Industrial Development Cooperation (IDC) and Sefa had approved funding of more than R160-million for young entrepreneurs.
Zuma also noted that the government’s Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) had created 3.7-million work opportunities between April 2009 and September 2013, while 277 out of the country’s 278 municipalities had signed protocol agreements committing them to achieving their EPWP targets.
The EPWP targets women and the youth, with 54% women and 50% youth making up the participants in the programme.