South Africa Finance Minister Tito Mboweni attends the World Economic Forum on Africa in Cape Town, South Africa, Thursday, Sept 5, 2019. Delegates attending the three-day summit that will tackle the issues faced by the continent by focusing on how to scale up the transformation of regional architecture related to smart institutions, investment, integration, industry and innovation. (AP Photo)

CAPE TOWN – The Minister of Finance Tito Mboweni said on Thursday that there was a need to ensure broadband access for all in order to overcome social, economic and spatial inequality.

Mboweni was addressing the first plenary session on behalf of President Cyril Ramaphosa at the World Economic Forum (WEF) on Africa at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC).

He said if the continent did not overcome social, economic and spatial inequality in the provision of broadband, it would simply perpetuate the economic exclusion of the majority of the continent’s people.

“We all know that economic growth, job creation and entrepreneurial activity is inextricably linked to broadband access. We therefore need to ensure that broadband access – like health care and education – is available to all,” said the Minister.

South Africa is facing an unemployment crisis and the current government’s National Development Plan (NDP) states that 90 percent of all new jobs will come from SMMEs by 2030. There needs to be much more focus on SMMEs in the country’s economic policies.

The African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) said in a statement on Thursday that too many people were left on the outskirts of the economy, with no real means of meaningfully participating.

It said WEF on Africa had to interrogate interventions needed to bring much needed reform to the phenomenon and think of new ways of making economies more inclusive. 

“There needs to be reform in how small businesses enter the market, where access to capital is made easier and an entrepreneurship environment is fostered and encouraged. There needs to be deliberate focus on simplifying the path to entrepreneurship by empowering business minded individuals to enter the space with less red tape compared to the current trend,” said the ACDP.

The Finance Minister urged the continent to embrace new ways of thinking.