South Africa's Minister Cwele Emphasizes Importance Of Digital Economy At BRICS Communications Ministers’ Meeting

At the 3rd BRICS (Brasil Russia India China South Africa) Communications Ministers' Meeting in Hangzhou (China), South Africa's Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services (DTPS), Dr. Siyabonga Cwele, has emphasised the importance of nurturing and developing the 'Digital Economy'. He further highlighted how most youth among all BRICS countries rely on the Digital Economy for their livelihoods and development.

South Africa's Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services (DTPS), Siyabonga Cwele South Africa's Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services (DTPS), Dr. Siyabonga Cwele, delivering his opening remarks address at the 3rd BRICS Communications Ministers' Meeting in Hangzhou, China.

The meeting kicked off on 27 July 2017 and also sees ICT business delegations from the various BRICS countries accompanying the Communications Ministers to collaborate and seek business / investment opportunities with their counterparts.

"Our young people are driven by the digital economy. As governments, we must enable young people and the industry at large, to undertake cutting edge research and development that will put new and existing technology at the center of government service delivery. Localization is at the core of the industrialization strategy for the country," said South Africa's Minister for the DTPS in his opening remarks address at the 3rd BRICS Communications Ministers' Meeting.

Dr. Cwele also highlighted South Africa's efforts in providing broadband connectivity to citizens by stating that the government has prioritized access to quality, affordable and safe ubiquitous high-speed broadband by 2020 to all South Africans.

"Currently, we are busy with Phase 1 of connecting government offices in 8 priority districts. However, to ensure country-wide rollout in the rest of the country, we will need investment partners Public Private Partnership funding. We encourage BRICS companies to participate in this $5b project when we call for request for proposal later this financial year,"

"Our second priority is the Internet for All, an initiative adopted by the World Economic Forum on Africa in May this year. The initiative aims to connect 22 million South Africans currently offline. Most of these are in rural and underserved areas, where there is only 2 G coverage. We invite you all as partners in rolling out connectivity; ensuring affordable services and handset devices; promoting e-skills; and developing local content applications to increase uptake and usage," said Dr. Cwele.

You can read Minister Cwele's full speech at the 3rd BRICS Communications Ministers' Meeting below.

Opening Remarks By The Minister Of Telecommunications & Postal Services of South Africa, Dr. Siyabonga Cwele At The 3rd BRICS Communications Ministers’ Meeting

Your Exellencies, Honourable BRICS Leaders,
Programme Director, Mr Liu Luhua,
Deputy Governor
Mr Houlin Zhao, Secretary-General of ITU,
Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Senior Government Officials,
Business Leaders,
Ladies and gentlemen

On behalf of the South African Government and its beloved people, permit me the latitude of conveying our sincere and brotherly greetings to our revered allies, the BRICS nations and the citizens of the People’s Republic of China.

As sister countries, the essence of our responsibility is to influence and shape the future of the global Information Communication and Technologies (ICT) agenda.

Excellencies,

As a collective, we hold a strategic and important place in the global economy. Together, our gross domestic product (GDP) is about 21% of the global volume, and I am confident this percentage will steadily increase. Let me reaffirm, the Republic of South Africa remains committed to cooperate with our BRICS allies in all sectors, especially in the information and communications industry.

ICTs remains high on the BRICS agenda, with multi-disciplinary enabler for driving innovation and development, contributing to GDP and the economy, empowering citizens; and fostering security.
In line with this theme of this meeting is “ICT Innovation and Integrative Development in the Era of Digital Economy,” our priorities should remain on:

  • rolling out of ICT infrastructure and communications networks and services and ensuring connectivity amongst BRICS countries;

  • development of new applications to support enterprise development; supporting the e-Skills Development for the digital economy;

  • developing local incubation programs to drive technology and development to support ICT for Small Medium and Micro Enterprise (SMMEs) including in the areas of e-commerce as endorsed by the BRICS GOA Declaration 2016.

Ladies and Gentlemen

This 3rd BRICS Communications Ministers’ meeting is an important gathering in cementing the ICT relations between our respective countries. For South Africa, ICT innovation and technology change is at the heart of the economic development strategy. Our Government has prioritized access to quality, affordable and safe ubiquitous high-speed broadband by 2020 to all South Africans. Currently, we are busy with Phase 1 of connecting government offices in 8 priority districts. However, to ensure country-wide rollout in the rest of the country, we will need investment partners Public Private Partnership funding. We encourage BRICS companies to participate in this $5b project when we call for request for proposal later this financial year.

Our second priority is the Internet for All, an initiative adopted by the World Economic Forum on Africa in May this year. The initiative aims to connect 22 million South Africans currently offline. Most of these are in rural and underserved areas, where there is only 2 G coverage. We invite you all as partners in rolling out connectivity; ensuring affordable services and handset devices; promoting e-skills; and developing local content applications to increase uptake and usage.

This links to our project of localisation for centers on innovation as well as our ICT Industrial Development Zonens in Durban, Johannesburg, Cape Town and Port Elizabeth cities. We call on our BRICS companies to take advantage of these investment opportunities

Program Director,

Frantz Fanon, an Afro-Caribbean philosopher and revolutionary once said: "Each generation must, out of relative obscurity, discover its mission, fulfill it, or betray it.” Our young people are driven by the digital economy. As governments, we must enable young people and the industry at large, to undertake cutting edge research and development that will put new and existing technology at the center of government service delivery. Localization is at the core of the industrialization strategy for the country.

Distinguished Delegates: SA is open for business.

South Africa is a dynamic and stable economy with solid economic fundamentals. We pride ourselves with the prudent fiscal management and monetary policies that have created macroeconomic stability. The sound financial system, highly regulated banking sector and world class infrastructure make us an ideal investment destination.

  • We currently ranked as number 1 economy in Africa and 25th in the world on Foreign Direct Investment South Africa is ranked 47 of 140 countries in WEF Global Competitive Index.

  • We ranked 6th out of 54 countries in Ibrahim Index on African Governance.

  • Ranked in at 38 from 100 countries in Most Value Nation Brands.

  • Is no 47 of 154 countries in Data Quality Index.

  • South Africa has the most diversified economy on the continent and advocates for Africa’s advancement, supporting the African Union Agenda 2063.

Ladies and gentlemen

ICTs remain a critical cornerstone of socio-economic development. The increased access to ICTs, in particular, broadband services and content carried on ICT networks, is acknowledged as an important means of promoting inclusive growth.
I have with me a diverse business delegation: a commitment that South Africa wants to partner with BRICS in transforming our country, sector, industry, and Africa at large. South Africa is open to partnering with BRICS countries in all areas of the ICT value chain.

Conclusion

If we are to achieve a digital economy, we need substantial cooperation amongst BRICS members to change the international rules and standards to ensure inclusive participation by developing and emerging markets.

We have an opportunity to strengthen the functioning of our BRICS Union and build a more integrated, innovative, and vibrant ICT network that is truly able to meet the needs of our people. We look forward to forging new partnerships, especially amongst the industry and Small Medium Micro Enterprises stakeholders present.

Your Excellencies,

We must develop effective mechanism to ensure that the decisions we make get implemented without delay. Now is the time for the BRICS nations to be leaders of the digital economy--and we will only achieve this through corporations and establishing a commity relationship.

The South African Government is looking forward to growing trade and economic cooperation within the BRICS community.

I thank you.

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