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Get ready for the e-skills revolution

Pretoria - Tomorrow starts today. This was the message of Cisco Networking Academy, where the information and communications technology (ICT) industry came together to discuss opportunities and developments in the field.

The conference – Southern Africa Safari 2014 – was hosted by Cisco, the largest manufacturer of network-connecting products.

Siyabonga Cwele makes his first address as a newly appointed minister of telecommunications at the Cisco summit at the University of Pretoria. Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng. Credit: INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS

Managing director Alpheus Mangale said there was a need to improve skills and train people to enable them to participate in their own economy.

It was important to set up partnerships with the government, non-profit organisations, business and education to improve the continent through technology, he said.

Mangale referred to President Jacob Zuma’s goal that by 2020 all of South Africa should be connected.

If this goal was achieved, it would give an opportunity to rural residents to have the same abilities – through connectivity and internet – as those in Sandton. This, he said, would change the landscape of South Africa and the world fundamentally.

Telecommunications Minister Siyabonga Cwele told the conference the government was not blind to technologies taking over the world or how important it was to be part of the connection to unleash the potential of South Africans in the digital economy.

“ICT growth has become characteristic of how we live,” Cwele said.

Most South Africans should have total access to the internet through mobile devices by 2025 through the country’s broadband policy, “South Africa Connect”, he said. “Infrastructure alone won’t help, people have to know how to use it,” he said. The aim was to have an “e-literate society” by 2030. Cwele urged Cisco to continue to co-ordinate and stimulate e-skills development.

He said the government would have to exert itself more to ensure the participation of more women in the male-dominated ICT industry.

He urged companies to have a greater uptake in providing skills training to women.

“The government can’t roll out networks alone. We must find ways of talking to the private sector,” he said.

Cwele said his department would be joining hands with the Department of Education to ensure technology training began at the foundation phase.

It was important to adapt teachers to a paperless environment and to give them the skills to use technology as an efficient tool, he said. E-governance through service delivery, health care and business, among many others, would change people’s lives, Cwele said. - Pretoria News

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