President Cyril Ramaphosa. FILE PHOTO: ANA
This summit takes place at a moment when the world is in dire need, not of leaders, but of leadership.

It is in need of women and men, in business, in politics, in the unions and in broader society, who will provide leadership on those issues that most affect the global community - poverty, inequality, youth unemployment, climate change, terrorism, narrow nationalism, chauvinism and intolerance. The difficulty lies in providing leadership.

This is not a task merely for presidents and prime ministers, but for all those in positions of responsibility who have a chance and the means to contribute to a better world. I am certain that through this summit, with the lessons that will be learnt, many who have the chance to make a difference will also find the means.

South Africa is in great need of leadership - from people who have the commitment, the vision, the capabilities and the determination to confront the many challenges. Even 24 years after the advent of democracy, it continues to deny millions of our people the skills, assets and opportunities to participate in meaningful economic activity.

We must acknowledge that over the course of the last decade, the progress we have made in addressing this legacy has been set back by a lacklustre economy, declining investment, policy incoherence and uncertainty, and the effects of corruption.

Since the end of the 2008 global financial crisis, our economic growth has not risen above 2% year on year.

At such levels, economic growth cannot keep up with population growth, and the number of jobs created cannot keep up with the number of people entering the job market.

We are faced with an unemployment crisis. Unless we are able to revive our economy and create jobs, the majority of South Africans will be denied real, meaningful opportunities to create a better life for themselves and their children.

We need to grow our economy at a far greater pace. Growth is vital to our efforts to reduce poverty and create employment, to improve health outcomes, to make society safer and to better the lives of all people.

Growth is a necessary, but not sufficient, condition for the achievement of a more equal and cohesive society.

It is therefore essential, if we are to achieve a South Africa that is free, equal and prosperous, that we strive for growth that is inclusive and sustainable. We have to create jobs for the unemployed of today, while preparing our workforce for the jobs of tomorrow. The rapid technological advances of the Fourth Industrial Revolution are fundamentally changing the nature, profile and location of work.

We will soon be establishing a Digital Industrial Revolution Commission, which will develop a comprehensive national plan to enable South Africa to take effective advantage of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

One of its central considerations must be the availability of suitable skills, particularly among the youth.

The severe skills deficit is a central factor in the exclusion of black and female South Africans. We must pay particular attention to making our education system more responsive to the needs and demands of our economy. The private sector has a huge role to play in offering learnerships, internships and on-the-job training opportunities.

Companies need to work closely with technical and vocational colleges to ensure the relevance of curricula and the suitability of the skills taught, and to smooth the path from education into employment.

Another reason for economic exclusion is the lack of access by black South Africans to land and other assets.

Without assets, most South Africans are unable to accumulate wealth, are unable to break the intergenerational cycle of poverty, and are unable to finance whatever entrepreneurial ventures they may conceive.

The focus on accelerated land reform is a vital opportunity to address economic exclusion. Land reform is not only about correcting a grave historical injustice; it is also an economic necessity. Through fair, transparent and comprehensive land reform, we seek to unlock the economic potential of our land and its people.

Those who have lived on the land for generations will have the right and the means to work it.

Emerging farmers will have the land, security and support they need establish viable businesses.

Poor people in urban areas will have affordable housing in areas that are located near to economic opportunities and social amenities.

Accelerated land reform, undertaken within the framework of our Constitution and in adherence with the law, can be an effective catalyst for greater agricultural production, rural development, employment creation and broader economic growth.

In the current environment, the government has a responsibility to prevent corruption and rent-seeking, which damage the capacity of the state and the economy. It is for this reason that we are taking decisive steps to end corruption, restore good governance at state-owned enterprises and strengthen critical public institutions.

The government needs to take responsibility for managing public funds responsibly and prudently.

In a constrained fiscal environment, we are continuing to invest in growth-enhancing measures and ensuring that education, health and social support - which are critical in pushing back poverty - receive priority.

It is at times like these that we look to business to provide leadership. What we need are companies that understand where we have come from as a country and where we are going - and are committed to be part of a better future for all.

As we grapple with the challenges of the present, we are fortunate to have in the National Development Plan a broad consensus on the future we want to build. The NDP has as its central purpose the need to unite our nation, unleash the energies of our citizens, grow an inclusive economy, build capabilities, and enhance the capability of the state and leaders working together to solve complex problems.

The task before us is significant.

We have emerged from a period of turbulence and are embarking upon a new path of growth and renewal. The success of our efforts rests on sound and decisive leadership. We are energised, we are determined and we have the means to succeed.

* This is an an extract from an address by President Ramaphosa at the Discovery Leadership Summit 2018, at Sandton Convention Centre, in Joburg