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Address by the Deputy President, H.E. David Mabuza, at Nkomazi High School, Mpumalanga

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Programme Director, 
Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies, Ms Ndabeni-Abrahams, 
MECs, Mayors and Councillors present, 
Dignitaries from NEMISA and MTN, 
Staff and learners from Nkomazi High School,
Ladies and Gentlemen

I am pleased to be here at the Nkomazi Local Municipality, as we are celebrating 27 years of freedom and democracy. Today is a day of celebration and acknowledgement of progress made to impact positively on the Ehlanzeni District Municipality. 

We take this opportunity to thank the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies, NEMISA and related partners for making today a reality. This act enhances partnerships between government and its citizens, and between government as well as the private sector. 

We also thank the Department for making sure we deliver on the promises we made in June 2018, to amongst others, train 30 young people who today possess skills in radio and television broadcasting. 

Certainly, as a country we have made major strides in delivering basic freedoms like education as well as access to other basic amenities, which are necessary to facilitate human development and opportunities for the fulfilment of our potential as a people. 

At the same time, significant challenges remain prevalent in ensuring equity for many South Africans as far as access to technology and ICT tools are concerned. This impacts negatively in levelling the playing field for young people to realise their dreams and potential, especially in the emerging world of the fourth industrial revolution that is characterised by artificial intelligence, robotics and 3D printing. 

Therefore, access to technology is important in facilitating development and in tackling disparities in society.  

This is the reason our visit here today is special for the community of Nkomazi, the people of Mpumalanga and South Africans in general. 

It is an important occasion to enable young people and by extension, youth enterprises that emerge from such enabled environment to shine. 

This ICT infrastructure will also contribute to eliminating disparities in terms of internet access, including bridging the gap between the school and the home environment in just ensuring continuous learning beyond the classroom. 

The Covid-19 pandemic has further highlighted the importance of adapting with change as demonstrated by the use of virtual platforms and online learning beyond the traditional methods in the classroom. Therefore a house without a Television, Radio, mobile phone, computer and internet connection to entertain and educate, hampers development. 

This suggests that our Television, set top boxes, tablets and mobile phones possess enormous potential beyond mere texting, social media and games but can be powerful tools for education.

Therefore, this infrastructure offers an opportunity for young people, to feel included in government programmes aimed at recognising and harnessing their innate talents, and where their innovation is appreciated.  

That is why I have no doubt that these cyber labs, will in return, enable the Schools to lead in the skills revolution, in skills development and preparing the learners and staff to contribute to the community, to the province and the country at large.

To the sponsors of these cyber-labs, a sincere appreciation is extended to you, since the labs will assist the local Schools and the surrounding community in capacitating our youth to build their enterprises. Nkomazi is one of the disadvantaged areas, but its people have proven to be diligent in the use of their natural intellect to achieve many things. 

Youth enterprises are especially important because they provide young people with a hand-up instead of a hand-out. These enterprises have an immeasurable role to play in addressing the socio-economic challenges that negatively affect this region.   

As you know, there is a direct connection between investing in digital skills, digital innovation and building a digitally skilled South African population. 

Our role as government, as civil society and the private sector, is to work hard to reverse and transcend these inequalities, which threaten South Africa’s social cohesion and nation building. 

What is done here today, is a showcase of bigger things to be done in the country to ensure that no citizen should be denied connectivity, be it Television, Radio, Information Technology that allow him or her to participate in the activities of his or her country and the world.

What we are doing here today is to put in facilities that will enable communities and our young people to connect with anyone and with any knowledge and information lying anywhere around the world.

Eliminating the digital divide, disparities in internet access and access to computers and tablets, would be one way of making a contribution that takes our society forward. 

The facilities we are bringing today should enable this community to connect with education wells anywhere in the world, access health facilities, communicate with anyone wherever they are, to access markets, and suppliers of different kinds of necessities for community use.

In this 21st century, we definitely need the key digital skills that will be gained in the cyber labs and those, which are provided for by institutions such as NEMISA. 

To the 29 young people who have completed their television and radio qualification at NEMISA, congratulations on this momentous achievement. 

You have made your families and community proud with your achievements. It is testament to your impressive character and determination that you did not give up but soldiered on to complete your studies in the allocated time. You now stand ready to join the working world by setting up your own business and by joining the various media industries. 

We are told that the training that was offered, covered basic skills for repairing different types of mobile phones and computer tablets. In today’s digital world, this training is a necessary survival skill that will provide the graduates with an income stream and sustain their small businesses. 

The possibilities are endless and it is foreseeable that amongst these 33 SMMEs, some will grow to an extent that major service providers like Telkom can partner with them, use their expertise and experience to upgrade their hardwares and softwares.      

The investment made with these ICT facilities, is evidence that government is doing its part to deliver to young people and communities with instruments:
to strengthen school programmes in science and technology, 
expand entrepreneurial training as a foundation to the mainstream economy, 
capacitate young people with training for absorption into the economy, and
to build infrastructure that service local communities.  
Ladies and Gentlemen  

As we said in 2018 when we launched in Ermelo, the Youth Walk into Economic Opportunities Expo that has led to today’s programme, the socio-economic challenges that our citizens and communities face are resolvable. 

By embracing ICT education and training as a lifelong journey, we will be better prepared to adapt to the rapidly changing world characterised by artificial intelligence and robotics. We will also be better equipped to derive global economy benefits that is increasingly shifting to becoming knowledge-based. 

In conclusion, to the four schools that received the cyber labs, we urge you to use these facilities wisely and most importantly, protect and guard them since they are your own property. If we do so, we shall be making sure that other learners from the lower grades will as well use them in the future.

Thank you.