Deputy Minister of Public Enterprises, Mr Gratitude Magwanishe
Councillors and other government leaders
President of ABASA, Mr Andile Khumalo
CEO of ABASA, Ms Nonkululeko Manyika
Past Presidents of ABASA
CEOs and executive decision makers
Members of the accounting profession from SAICA (South African Institute of Chartered Accountants) & SAIPA (South African Institute of Professional Accountants)
Distinguished guests, Ladies and gentlemen,
It is an honour to address you today. My name is Dina Pule the Minister of Communications and I head one of the most exciting departments in government.
The Department of Communications aims to make South Africa a global leader in harnessing ICTs for socio-economic development.
To this end we have embarked on a number of initiatives that will find synergy with the work of ABASA (Association for the Advancement of Black Accountants of Southern Africa).
The Association for the Advancement of Black Accountants of Southern Africa is an organisation whose work serves to inspire our nation. Given our historical challenges your work is both commendable and aspirational.
ABASA's role in the training, encouragement and recognition of black professionals in this sector is admired.
The development of black professionals in the accounting profession relies on a number of factors. Your interventions from the Bursary Fund, the Nkuhlu Subvention Fund that assists historically disadvantaged universities appoint quality accounting lecturers, and the ABASA Leadership Programme which facilitates mentorship, are welcome initiatives.
The 12th Commission for Employment Equity (CEE) annual report has noted the progress made by the private sector and government.
However, there is still a massive under-representation of black people, women and people with disabilities in key labour markets. It is apparent that males and White people are more likely to be recruited and promoted when compared to any other group.
The employment of people with disabilities also remains a sore point with progress in this regard, minimal. We need to make a more determined effort to address these challenges. As government we are also working to address this in our work.
South Africa’s first black accountant qualified in 1976. Since then much progress has been made towards the transformation of the accounting profession. However, only 6 143 of the 33 167 accountants are black. This translates into a figure of 19.3 percent for blacks while the figure for Black women is only 8,5 percent.|
As the Department of Communications we are trying to effect a cultural change in the economy by encouraging young people, and particularly women, to explore the ICT fields. Our efforts are geared at realising a better life for all our citizens. We are also trying to change what has for a long time been a male-dominated industry.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Next week we host a Proof of Concept launch for Digital Terrestrial Television or DTT. Keeping in line with the directives from the International Telecommunication Union we are switching from analogue to digital television. More than providing better picture quality DTT will revolutionise the television industry.
Digital television requires less bandwidth. This will result in the digital dividend bring released. What this means is that more television channels will be allowed. With this the opportunities for content development abound.
SABC is introducing a 24-hour news channel and 24-hour channels for sport, education and health are also in the pipeline.
This will allow entrepreneurs ample opportunity to provide content for these channels. The opportunity exists for ABASA to provide educational content to a broader audience, by building on what it is already doing.
DTT also allows for the provision of other non-television services such as multimedia or interactivity and for the utilisation of additional languages.
Our Set-Top Boxes or decoders will allow all eleven languages to be utilised for information provision. What this means is that government services to South Africans will improve.
The International Telecommunication Union's April 2012 report on the Impact of Broadband on the Economy indicates that the contribution of broadband to GDP appears to vary widely across the developing and developed world, from 0.25 to 1.38 percent for every increase in 10 percent of penetration.
Broadband technology contributes to economic growth in a number of ways. The utilisation of broadband technology improves productivity by ensuring the adoption of more efficient business processes, such as marketing, inventory optimisation and the streamlining of supply chains.
Widespread distribution of broadband accelerates innovation through the introduction of new consumer applications and services. The development of apps for mobile phones is but one example of this.
The Department of Communications has undertaken to provide 100 percent broadband access to all citizens by 2020. Broadband access will improve governance and the provision of services by government.
Even today, with improved Internet access through mobile technology, we are witnessing government departments and politicians becoming more accountable to the electorate through the use of social media.
The possibilities for the improvement in service delivery are limited only by our own imagination. Broadband access in hospitals will allow health professionals in rural clinics to connect with their better-equipped and generally more experienced counterparts in metropolitan areas, for advice and assistance.
E-Government connectivity will improve the digitisation of government records. We often find that patients at public hospitals have different records at different institutions with doctors unable to access a patient’s history. The digitisation of records will nullify this.
To facilitate this process the department has developed a Broadband Strategy and Broadband Plan. This will ensure a more coordinated rollout of broadband, rather than the willy-nilly approach that is currently occurring. It will also mean that our rural communities will not be left out of the loop. However, while this plan is being finalised we have embarked on a number of initiatives.
One that I am particularly pleased with is the Schools Connectivity programme. Working with the Department of Education we aim to connect 1 650 schools.
I was in the Free State province yesterday where the MEC for Education was recounting how the Schools Connectivity Programme had impacted on their schools. He indicated that since schools had obtained Internet access the schooling culture had changed completely.
Now school kids come early to school and leave late. Their attitude towards learning has done an about turn. They are eager to make the most of the opportunities that technology provides. We expect this to have a positive impact on the pass rate. To date we have connected 370 Schools. Imagine the impact on education if we could connect all schools tomorrow?
As the Department of Communications we are always looking at innovative ways to address some of the challenges the Employment Equity Report has identified. We have introduced a number of programmes to address the gender and youth disparities we find in the economy.
The Gender and ICT Strategy has been recently finalised. One of the results of this is the Young Women in ICT Programme. The purpose of the programme is to provide a platform for young women to discuss their empowerment and to raise interest in ICTs amongst young Women.
The programme brings together 100 young women from all nine provinces, particularly young women from rural areas. The participants are young women from Grades 11-12, Universities and Universities of Technology, Further Education and Training (FET) Colleges and other Community Organisations, from the ages of 17 to 25.
Another innovative project is Mobinet for Girls. The purpose of the project is to encourage young girls to participate in technology fields and consider technology as a career as well as to increase computer literacy among girls.
The programme provides online mentorship to Tech Girls’ clubs. This promotes literacy through reading, writing and critical thinking through the generation of content on gender equity.
They also use these mobile forums to discuss concerns pertinent to teenagers from teenage pregnancy and peer pressure to substance abuse. The issues discussed are used to create content and brought together in a newsletter on a quarterly basis.
The programme also trains girls on how to design and develop a website. The girls in question are in Grades 9, 10 and 11. Thus far 20 girls have been trained and they will in turn train another 300, starting this October.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Techno-Girl programme is aimed at placing disadvantaged girls in a structured job-shadowing programme and exposes them to the world of work, during school holidays, so that they can make an informed career choice.
One of the benefits of the programme is the increased knowledge amongst these young women on the careers that they are exposed to in the workplace. The programme further contributes to increasing awareness amongst the girls of the importance of subject choices for future career preferences. During the June school holidays we hosted 10 girls at the Department of Communications.
Another important programme is the Youth Development and ICT Strategy. Emanating from this strategy is the e-Cadre programme.
The e-Cadre programme is a National Youth Service flagship programme of the department that is being implemented through partnership with 15 Further Education and Training (FET) Colleges nationally. The training component of the programme adopts the globally recognised International Computer Driving Licence (ICDL).
In this financial year the department is training 150 young people through five rurally-based FET Colleges. These e-Cadres consist of those who have completed their matric and are between 18-25 years of age. On completing the ICDL they are placed for 6 months at establishments such as clinics, schools and other public service institutions. They gain both life skills and work experience in the process. Thus far 872 young people have been trained and 192 have gone through to the service deployment phase and have been placed at institutions.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Department of Communications recently reiterated its commitment to Operation Clean Audit 2014.
This is to ensure that the department and the various entities that report to it, and these are the SABC, SA Post Office, National Electronic Media Institute of South Africa, Sentech, .za Domain Name Authority, Independent Communications Authority of South Africa and the Universal Service and Access Agency of South Africa, all achieve a clean audit by 2014.
We are working towards stabilising the entities that report to the department. Last week Sentech received an unqualified audit opinion and we want this to be the case for all entities and the department as well. We do need strong accounting skills in the public sector. Our government and the department are actively seeking to channel more accounting work to black firms.
As you can see some of the work of the Department of Communications resonates with that of ABASA. We would appreciate your support for the implementation of the e-Cadre and Techno-Girl Programmes through assistance with workplace placement and the mentoring of young people participating in these programmes. The department is committed to gender equity, women empowerment and youth development and will welcome any collaboration with the Association of Black Accountants of Southern Africa.
Working together I am sure that we can unlock the potential the ICT sector holds. Who knows, the next Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerburg could be living right amongst us.
Analysts from global financial services firm JPMorgan indicate that the iPhone 5 could increase annualised GDP growth in the USA in the fourth quarter between 0.25% and 0.5%. This was based on the expected sale of 8 million iPhones between this month and December in the USA.
Current estimates put worldwide sales of the iPhone 5 at between 5 million and 8 million over the past weekend alone. With our initiatives in the ICT sector we hope that the next big thing will originate right here in South Africa.
I thank you.