The ITU Telecom World Conference opened yesterday at the Inkosi Alber Luthuli International Convention Centre in Durban. Picture: SIYABULELA DUDA
Durban - President Cyril Ramaphosa has told some of the world’s leaders in technology and innovation that there was a strong correlation between innovation and growth as he urged them to invest in the country.

On Monday, Ramaphosa opened the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Telecom world conference in Durban.

The country was represented by Communications Minister Nomvula Mokonyane, Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services Siyabonga Cwele, acting premier of KwwaZulu-Natal Sihle Zikalala, senior government officials, chief executives and captains of industry.

“Our economy needs investment from local and international investors. Our target is a $100billion of new investments over the next five years. This is part of a broader effort to set the country on a new growth, employment and transformation path.”

Ramaphosa said innovative talent has been developed that is driving the technology changes taking place.

“This is proceeding at a pace faster than humanity has ever seen before. People from this continent 100000 years ago were able to use technology to change and improve their lives. Our forebears used innovative talent that they developed on this continent to advance humanity.”

He said that the IT has a digital agenda for crafting inclusivity and sustainability. “It is an opportunity to create a better life for all the people of the world.

“The fourth industrial revolution must improve the human condition on an inclusive basis so that no one is left behind.”

For this to be successful it was critical that governments work closely with industry to maximise the value of digital innovation.

Ramaphosa said the rapid expansion of broadband and accessibility has been identified as a priority in South Africa and other developing countries.

“This accelerated rollout of broadband to rural areas and the building of houses in areas not seen as economically viable is crucial for the country.

“That is the real key to economic inclusion and growth.”

He said the South African government was willing to engage with stakeholders.

“This is the way we do things in South Africa. We consult with role players and stakeholders to give them an opportunity to provide input.

“Where we disagree we set out why we disagree and continue with our consultation. The door to all stakeholders is forever open.

“Together we want to grow this sector,” Ramaphosa said.

He said the introduction of 5G connectivity will build a smarter digital economy. “We say forward with 5G and we are going to spread it among our people to make their lives a lot better.”

ITU secretary-general Houlin Zhao told delegates that ITU Telecom World 2018 is a platform for everyone to forge new ICT partnerships.

He urged delegates to “work together to ensure a smart and inclusive digital future for all - in Africa and in the rest of the world.”

The Mercury