Minister van Rooyen: ICTs Pivotal for Youth and Women Development

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ADDRESS BY THE MINISTER OF COOPERATIVE GOVERNANCE AND TRADITIONAL AFFAIRS, MR DES VAN ROOYEN, at the

AFRICA DECENTRALISATION DAY COMMEMORATION,

10 August 2017,

CSIR ICC,

Tshwane

 

Programme Director, DG Nwaila,

Ambassador of DRC and Dean of Diplomatic Corp, Ambassador Bene M’Poko,

President of SALGA, Cllr Parks Tau

Executive Mayor of Tshwane, Mr Solly Msimanga,

Government officials,

All Youth Organisations,

Members of Diplomatic Corp,

Ladies and Gentleman,

 

Good Morning, Sanibonani, Dumelang,

 

I am glad to join you today.

 

Africa is the world’s second largest and second-most populated continent.

 

It is home to over a billion people, spread across 54 recognised countries, speaking over a thousand languages, across many ethnicities, cultures and religions.

 

Africa is also the world’s youngest continent, with the median age being recorded at 19,5 years.

 

Africa is also our home and our future.

 

Honoured guests,

 

Today, we are here to mark Africa Decentralisation Day. The 21st century is an urban century. Over half of the world’s population lives in cities, and it is projected that 70% will be living in urban areas by 2050. South Africa is no exception. More than 60% of South Africans live in urban areas, and this figure is projected to increase to 71.3% and 80% by 2030 and 2050, respectively.

 

What this has done is place more emphasis on the role of cities in driving economic growth and social development. The African Charter on the Values and Principles of Decentralisation, Local Government and Local Development defines decentralisation as ‘the transfer of power, responsibilities, capacities and resources from national to all sub-national levels of government with the aim of strengthening the ability of the latter to both foster peoples’ participation and delivery of quality services.’

 

South Africa already has a highly decentralised system of government, with clear roles and responsibilities outlined for the national, provincial and local spheres of government. This has been further enhanced by the transfer of functions such as housing, to more capable municipalities.

 

Nevertheless, this process is bedevilled by the lack of financial resources as well as administrative and political capabilities.

 

The African Charter also calls for the integration of youth, gender and disability issues within the local government sphere.

 

The African Union has focused on the African youth in 2017, through the theme entitled “Harnessing demographic dividend by investing in youth.”

 

The theme for Africa Decentralisation Day builds on that, with the theme of “Equal opportunities, socio-economic empowerment and participation of youth in local governance and local development: guarantee for inclusive growth in Africa in 2063.”

 

There is a further focus on the importance of effective gender representation and the potential of youth in ICTs, at local governance level.

 

This Africa Decentralisation Day therefore comes at a most opportune time, as August is Women’s Month in South Africa. Yesterday, we marked Women’s Day under the theme, “Year of OR Tambo: Women united in moving South Africa forward.”

 

We remain inspired by the women of 1956, who despite the efforts of the apartheid government to divide them, were able to transcend the racial, cultural and socio-economic barriers. The march by over 20 000 women on 9 August 1956, in protest at the extension of pass laws to women, remains a defining moment in our history.

 

We draw courage from the women of 1956, who remained resolute in the face of the apartheid onslaught. Their efforts remind us of the role that women played in the struggle for liberation. They continue to guide the African National Congress as we ensure that women are well represented across government.

 

Certainly, we support the call for 50 percent representation of women at local government level. When we speak of representation, we believe that young women should be at the forefront of this representation.

 

Certainly, Agenda 2063, which serves as a blueprint for the Africa We Want, envisages an Africa in which gender disparities are eliminated, and that all forms of gender-based violence and discrimination are removed.

 

Let me state firmly that we are against all forms of gender-based violence. I fully condemn the recent attack by a member of the executive this past weekend. We do believe that the law must take its course, without fear or favour.

 

Aspiration 6 of Agenda 2063 calls for:

 

“An Africa whose development is people-driven, relying on the potential of African people, especially its women and youth, and caring for children.”

 

If we are to achieve the goals of Agenda 2063, which further states that Africa:

 

“…will have full gender parity, with women occupying at least 50% of elected public offices at all levels and half of managerial positions in the public and the private sectors,”

 

We have to start now.

 

We do hope that by focusing on both women and the youth we do ensure that both their profiles and contributions can receive the recognition it deserves.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

If we are to achieve the aims of Agenda 2063, then the role of ICTs must be harnessed.

 

Information and Communication Technologies allow us to leapfrog the digital divide and ensure that future generations of African youth are not denied the chance of a great education.

 

I am glad that we have managed to attract panellists such as Mixo Ngoveni of Geekulcha, who are redefining the role of the youth in the ICT sector, by championing the development of ICT skills and training among the youth.

 

We know that the next Mark Zuckerberg will be from the African continent. He – or she – may very well be among the youth that are being trained through the various innovation and ICT hubs that have developed across the country and continent.

 

In that regard let me recognise young women such as our fellow African sister, Botswana-born Rapelang Rabana, an ICT entrepreneur of note, who was named World Entrepreneur for the World in 2014. She has actively promoted the role of women in business as well as the use of mobile technology to catalyse new business opportunities.

 

The use of ICTs has spread rapidly across the continent, propelled in no small measure by advances in mobile technology. More than half a billion people currently subscribe to mobile services in Africa. This is expected to grow to 725 million subscribers by 2020. The youth are at the forefront of driving the use of ICTs, utilising it in everything from dating to banking.

 

I urge you to continue to use ICTs to solve many of the socio-economic challenges confronting our country and continent. Mobile services now address challenges such as financial inclusion and bridging the digital divide.

 

African youth have embraced ICTs. I look forward to hearing our panel discussions on the great strides that are being made, as well as the challenges faced by youth, and what we as government, at national, provincial and local levels, can do to facilitate digital inclusion and entrepreneurship.

 

I wish you well in your debate and discussions.

 

I thank you.