RNEWS / 01 JULY 2019 - 16.11 / STAFF REPORTER
Ngqeleni - The Eastern Cape Government led by Premier, Lubabalo Oscar Mabuyane, closed Youth Month on a high note over the weekend by launching the R150 million Isiqalo Youth Fund at Ngqeleni, Nyandeni Sub-region, OR Tambo.
The fund aimed at funding start-ups and businesses owned by young people is a drive to reduce youth unemployment, poverty, grow provincial economy and creation of jobs.
It is provincial government’s investment into youth development, which was allocated by the government to address challenges faced by the province’s youth.
Addressing the gathering, Mabuyane said that the current generation of young people is facing a different kind of challenges than their 1976 counterparts.
"Whilst the 1976 generation fought and achieved their mission of political freedom, the current generation is faced with complex task of achieving economic emancipation, as it is trapped in high levels of unemployment," he explained.
"When I say this task is complex I am basing my point on the fact that to achieve economic emancipation for the youth, there needs to be a change in the ownership of our economy which is still largely in the hands of the minority.
"Various studies conducted reveal the sad truth that our people are still confined into the periphery of the economy as consumers rather than on the production side. Without a doubt this indicates that our pace of transforming the economy over the past 25 years through various policy imperatives such as the Black Economic Empowerment and other initiatives have yielded minimal results and benefited only a few amongst the black population."
The Premier sad that what this calls for then is what the Provincial Development Plan calls economic transformation.
"I have heard many naysayers pouring called water on this agenda but we are not surprised because when we look at who they are; we see people who are the beneficiaries of the current economic status quo. We have bad news for them, the economic transformation agenda is being rolled out as we speak and it will gather momentum during this sixth term," he described.
"At the center of this agenda is the commitment to encourage the youth to become employment creators than employment seekers. The reality of the matter is that our economy is not growing at acceptable rates to create jobs and here in our province we are sitting with more than 1 million young people of working age who are unemployed.
"This is a concern to us hence we are saying we will intensify our efforts to encourage young people to become entrepreneurs. The Provincial Youth Development Strategy directs us to do promote Entrepreneurship Development, Skills Development, and Placement of Matric and NCV graduates in programmes that will employ them."
Isiqalo Youth Fund
Mabuyane said that in the State of the Province Address, he announced that his government is setting up Isiqalo Youth Fund with R150 million allocated over three years to promote youth entrepreneurship in the Province.
"The businesses of young people that will benefit from this fund have to demonstrate how they will create jobs for other young people.
"This is a fund to support real entrepreneurs, people who know why they are in business, people who have a passion for what they do and people who will use their profits to grow their businesses. I thought I must stress this point because there are entrepreneurs and there are tenderprenuers. This fund is for entrepreneurs, oVukazenzele," he added
"As a province we have recently adopted a Provincial Economic Development Strategy in which we identified sectors that we have a comparative advantage on and these are; Agricultural Development, Blue Economy, Tourism, Creative Arts. Energy, Light Manufacturing and Automotive Industry. This is where we want young entrepreneurs to stake a claim. This fund will assist young people in these productive sectors."
Mabuyane said that this is just one funding mechanism.
"We also have the Local and Regional Economic Development Fund which is managed by the Department of Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism which has proactively offered financial stimulus to support black business start-ups that are operating in various sectors of our economy especially," he described.
"I am pleased to inform this meeting that the enterprises we have funded are still operating and going strong. Many of them are owned by young people not only in the urban areas, but also in the rural areas of our province. Among these is Khulani Bricks in Dutywa, Red Ribbon in Debenek and Kusasa Green in Dimbaza.
"This indicates without a doubt that we remain true to our word when we say economic transformation should be felt by our young people on the ground not only major towns. There are indeed plenty of opportunities in all these sectors that I mentioned waiting for the youth to grab them. Umbuzo ngowokuba nizoyithola kanjani xa nihleli ekoneni?"
He said that his government's focus on these sectors is premised on the fact that for us, SMMEs are the drivers of economic growth and employment creation, not government.
"Our role as government at national, provincial and local level is to create a conducive environment for businesses to thrive, thereby assisting government to address the triple challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequalities in our society.
"We are seeing a few entrances by black business people in these sectors and very few young people are involved. I want to challenge young entrepreneurs to move away from the traditional services into the mainstream of producing products that would be used by industries and government here in our province," the Premier said.
"Let me qualify this by informing our youth that most of the products that are used in the province by both industry and government are sourced outside the province. Whether you are talking products used in clinics, the learner teacher support material for our schools, school furniture, and other consumable products.
"All of these are mainly sourced outside our province meaning a large portion of Government’s R10 billion Goods and Services Budget is benefiting businesses outside our province. That is a situation we are hoping to change by seeing young entrepreneurs who are gathered here breaking new ground and providing solutions to our manufacturing challenges."
He said in his State of the Province Address he highlighted that his gvernment will remove policy bottle necks in its procurement regime because it is limiting our ability to grow local industries.
"We want a localized policy provision on preferential procurement that would allow government to procure goods from the businesses of young people women, and persons with disability.
"Programme Director this is not the only programme we have for young people. As I indicated in the SOPA, we understand that many of our young people are out-of-school and find it difficult to find employment. We have programmes for them too. Over the next two years, we will roll out the National Youth Service programme to provide training and skills development 7 000 young people across all Districts," the Preimer said.
"This training and skills development programme will empower our young people with skills they can use to better their lives.
"Working with traditional leaders , communities and families , we will work hard to stop killing of our young people in the initiation process. This must be stopped it is bad and cant be allowed to continue nonstop .
"We are also going to heighten the placement of graduates from our TVET Colleges and Universities in learnerships and internships. This is by no means a measure to delay their progress towards employment because in government we are removing the requirement of experience for entry level posts.
"The reality is that not all graduates will be employed in government. We must prepare some for the private sector, but we will engage the private sector as well to remove the experience requirement as it is a barrier for your people to gain employment."
Young people urged to form cooperatives
He urged young people of the province to organise themselves in cooperatives, in construction, sewing, agriculture, waste management and creative arts.
"During this term we will ensure that they get assisted to grow their cooperatives. Today we have affirmed 5 legacy projects by R100 000 each to the following young companies: Velani Mampondo Agriculture Co-op from Nyandeni, Oloziba Day spa from KSD, Sijonge Phambili weaving co-op from KSD, Sinawe all the time bakery from Ingquza and Qwesha coffin Manufacturing from Mhlontlo," the Premier added.
"WE are also handing over 5 wheelchairs to 5 learners From Vukuzenzele special school in Mbizana. We want to express our gratitude to CE Mobility for donating these wheelchairs.
"As I conclude Programme Director, I have noted with concern that not all departments and municipalities have a dedicated youth directorate. This is problem, we can no longer afford to treat youth issues as a by the way matter.
"We must elevate youth issues and to do all departments and municipalities must have youth directorates that are led by Directors who are qualified in youth development matters. We must do this, otherwise youth issues will continue to be on the back seat in government departments and municipalities."
Mabuyane said that the sixth term of the Eastern Cape Provincial Government presents an opportunity to change the fortunes of youth in the province.
"However, there is nothing we can do for the youth without the youth. We will work with South African Youth Council and the National Youth Development Agency to ensure that we do not miss the mark in our response to youth challenges. We are here today to commit that the youth are the central cog of the Eastern Cape we want."
Disclaimer - The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the BEE CHAMBER