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South Africa’s youthful population is ripe for a continent-wide economic revival driven by technological innovation. This is according to Vodacom Buisness Chief Officer Vuyani Jarana, who has highlighted the vast potential which the digital economy holds for SA, particularly in the fields of education, health, agriculture and transport.

South Africa is currently experiencing a digital revolution, which has unprecedented consequences for every part of our lives as well as the economies which sustain us. Jarana says: “The digital economy is the single most important driver of innovation, competitiveness and growth and it holds huge potential for the African continent. The key for Africa is to adopt an innovative mindset and focus on skills development to ensure that digital transformation opportunities can be seized by Africans. Africa must become a creator, and not just a consumer, of technology in order to promote inclusive transformation.”

South Africa needs to take advantage of the unfolding digital economy to uplift its youth, who make up the largest proportion of the unemployed in SA. As digital tools become more efficient in solving daily productivity problems and more adaptive to learned situations, they can be deployed to solve some of society's greatest challenges, including widespread unemployment.

  • Vodacom Business Chief Officer Vuyani Jarana addresses the audience at Vodacom’s business briefing in Port Elizabeth on Friday 4th November.

Digital development

As the South African economy evolves digitally, new types of jobs are being created. It is critical that South Africa ensures it has the right skills to meet the demands of an increasingly sophisticated economy and to include more people in the digital agenda. The time for Africa and South Africa in particular is now for embracing the digital economy to find African solutions for African problems. Many challenges need to be addressed in South Africa, however we need to remember that we are not operating in isolation, but rather as part of a global economy

As an example of this digital development, the National Department of Health and Vodacom successfully deployed a custom-built mobile application in over 3 000 clinics across South Africa earlier this year, to monitor drug stock levels and reduce drug stock-outs.  

With this in mind there needs to be a focus on three areas: leveraging digital technologies, improving knowledge, skills and resources, and creating collaboration and consensus among key stakeholders.

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South Africa is going to have to increase its investment in technology. The world is being driven by mobile today and we have to upskill young people. If we are too inward looking and only remain focused on fixing our own problems, we will get left behind. We need to remain competitive globally and South Africa must take advantage of the unfolding digital economy for its youth. Data and science skills are the new gold for industries.  

 

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