26 May 2011
This year marks the 35th anniversary of the 1976 Soweto Uprisings. With government having declared 2011 as the year of job creation, the focus of this year’s Youth Month commemoration will be on youth empowerment and participation in the country’s socio- economic activities/priorities, job creation, health, fighting crime, rural development and education. Linked to that, this year’s Youth Month will be launched under the theme “Youth Action for Economic Freedom in our Lifetime”.
Since its launch, the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) has succeeded in its mandate of advancing youth development.
- The NYDA continues to enhance the participation of young people in the economy through targeted and integrated programmes with the focus on job development and has trained 171 000 youth, including 86 644 young people participating in the National Youth Service (NYS) Programme.
- In ensuring that youth have access to opportunities, the NYDA has established partnerships with municipalities in facilitating access through the establishment of local youth offices. To date, 137 branches and local youth offices have been established by the NYDA with its partners.
- With regard to the Youth Business International Programme, the NYDA has secured a partnership on microfinance and mentorship programmes which builds on the skills capacity of young people to explore possibilities beyond South Africa’s borders. The NYDA supported 31 000 young entrepreneurs with business loan finance.
- In providing youth with resources to enable them to generate sustainable business ventures, the NYDA has approved R64 429 million worth of loans to young entrepreneurs.
The NYDA has also been instrumental in facilitating the youth’s economic participation in the country.
- The NYDA has linked over 11 000 young people to job opportunities through its Jobs and Opportunities Seekers’ Database and Opportunities Seekers’ Database and sourced business opportunities worth over R64,6 million through its Business Opportunities Support Service.
- The NYS Programme includes collaboration with the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) to mainstream youth into public works projects and Youth Build International and Department of Human Settlements in the construction of houses in Ivory Park.
- To ensure skills development and economic participation, the NYDA has partnered with the Department of International Relations and Cooperation and the Department of Trade and Industry to facilitate the participation of young people in international trade delegations. The NYDA has also collaborated with multinational corporations such as Nestlè, which support young vendors with access to products and finance.
- Government calls on the business sector to support its job-creation efforts for young people by investing more in the education of youth and considering them for skills development, employment and procurement opportunities.
Government is committed to creating jobs for young people. Socio-economic development in rural areas prioritises the development of and job creation for youth.
- The National Rural Youth Service Corps, which forms part of the Comprehensive Rural Development Strategy, is a key government programme which addresses a key priority: rural development, land reform and food production and security.
- The NYDA is a key partner of this programme, which recruits youth from rural communities and engages them in a two-year development programme that emphasises entrepreneurship and life-skills orientation.
- Five hundred young people graduated from the programme on 6 May 2011 and will return to their respective communities to contribute to the infrastructural improvement in their localities.
- The NYDA has created and/or sustained 60 000 jobs through its various programmes, including the entrepreneurship and skills-development programmes.
Government calls on all young people to take charge of their constitutional rights and become active agents for socio-economic change.
- Through the Integrated Youth Development Strategy, government will provide guidelines to all organisations, including institutions run by youth intended to implement youth-development programmes.
- The composite development of youth also requires intellectual stimulation, creativity, innovation and a sense of self-worth and national identity in becoming active agents of socio-economic change. Government remains committed to work with young people to promote social cohesion and contribute towards nation-building.
- Youth activism is directed at successfully tackling the challenges of combating poverty, unemployment, underdevelopment, substance abuse and HIV and AIDS.
- Government has put in place various initiatives and interventions based on the foundation of a citizenry that actively contributes towards a functioning democracy, where current and future generations must lead healthy lifestyles and have access to healthy choices in becoming agents of socio-economic change.
- Government calls on all sexually active youth to take ownership and responsibility by knowing their current status and getting tested. This will enable them to make informed decisions about protecting their negative status and preventing new infections in future.
An informed and empowered legion of young people who have the skills to make career decisions is likely to improve the skills profile of the overall population and improve mobility between different levels of education and between education and the world of work.
- Government calls on all youth to take full advantage of the critical and non-negotiable activities to ensure that educators teach, learners learn, parents provide support to their children and government creates a conducive environment for learning and teaching.
- Starting from the 2011 academic year, government is incrementally introducing free education for the poor at undergraduate level. Students in Further Education and Training (FET) colleges who qualify for financial aid will be exempted completely from paying academic fees.
- While many young people have plans to enter university, there are also other options, which include training as artisans at FET colleges or registering for learnerships through the Sector Education and Training Authority system, participating in the National Skills Fund programmes, joining the South African National Defence Force as part of its Military Development Programme or participating in the EPWP.
- All youth are called into action to make education the most important priority in their lives.
- We encourage the youth to contribute towards building safer communities by volunteering their services and participating in various structures that are meant to fight crime.
South Africa will participate in the AGOA Forum from 7 to 8 June 2011 in Lusaka, Zambia, under the theme “Enhanced Trade through Competitiveness, Value Addition and Deep Regional Integration”. This annual forum brings together several government leaders and private-sector stakeholders from Africa and the United States of America (USA). Instituted in 2000, AGOA represents the US’ policy perspective on its trade relations with Africa. It provides duty-free and quota-free treatment for sub-Saharan Africa countries on a broad range of export products.
AGOA offers tangible incentives for African countries to open their economies and build free markets which integrate Africa into the global economy.
- AGOA was signed into law on 18 May 2000 and set to lapse in 2008. However, in 2004, the US Congress passed the AGOA Acceleration Act, which extended the legislation to 2015.
- The Act's apparel special provision, which departs from typical AGOA rules by allowing lesser-developed countries to use fabric inputs sourced from outside AGOA-eligible countries for the production of their garment exports, was to expire in September 2007. However, legislation passed by the US Congress in December 2006 extended it to 2012.
- The USA annually evaluates the countries and determines which country should remain eligible. Eligible countries can export about 6 500 products from textiles to automobiles, and even perishables.
- While AGOA is often synonymous with preferential garment exports, it opens the US market to a large number of African-source goods that are able to enter the USA free of import duty.
As at January 2011, there were 37 AGOA-eligible countries compared to 41 in 2009.
AGOA is the most important framework for building USA-Africa trade and investment relations and represents the most tangible and meaningful expression of US support for African development.
- AGOA offers African nations, which are making progress in economic, legal and human rights reforms, an opportunity to export their products to the USA duty-free, expanding on the existing US trade programme previously available only under the Generalised System of Preference (GSP) Programme.
- By creating tangible incentives for African countries to implement economic and commercial reform policies, AGOA contributes to better market opportunities and stronger commercial partners in Africa.
- Within the sub-Saharan region, countries that have fared significantly well under AGOA include Angola, Nigeria and South Africa whose collective exports for the year 2010 were valued at over US$3 billion according to official statistics from the US Department of Commerce.
- The USA provides technical assistance to AGOA-eligible countries to help them benefit from the legislation, through the American Agency for International Development and other agencies. They have established three regional trade hubs in Africa for this purpose.
South Africa and all countries that benefit from the scheme in Africa continue to lobby for AGOA to be extended beyond 2015 and that its benefits should be deepened and extended.
- Some of the trade-preference reforms that the African diplomatic corps are currently pursuing with the US Congress include extending AGOA on a long and sustainable basis.
- Combined exports of the AGOA-eligible countries have consistently exceeded the collective value of their imports from the USA. There has been a 300% overall increase in USA-Africa trade since AGOA’s inception. In 2010, AGOA imports totaled US$44 billion, 31% more than in 2009. Petroleum products continue to account for the largest portion of AGOA imports with a 91% overall share.
- AGOA has resulted in the growth of the clothing industry in southern Africa, the promotion of new trade and investment and has created about 300 000 jobs in Africa.
The USA is South Africa’s third-largest trading partner after China and Germany. Additional growth recorded for South Africa include:
- 850% growth in South Africa’s automotive exports to the USA between 2000 and 2010
- 317% increase in automotive investment by major manufacturers under AGOA
- 277% growth in total South African exports to the USA since the inception of AGOA.
Through its preferential trade access to the USA, AGOA contributes to South Africa’s efforts in placing the economy on a job-creating growth path.
- AGOA and the Southern African Customs Union-USA Trade, Investment, Development and Cooperation Agreement constitute the Government-to Government basis for building trade relations between South Africa and the USA.
- South Africa is one of the top five AGOA beneficiary countries, which include Nigeria, Angola, the Republic of Congo and Chad.
- While Nigeria and Angola are the largest exporters under AGOA, South Africa has been the most diverse and not concentrated only in one sector . In 2009, South Africa exported automotive and transportation equipment worth more than US$1 billion to the USA under AGOA, and US$2 billion in 2008 before the full weight of the global recession was felt.
- Between 2000 (the year AGOA was enacted) and 2006, the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa estimated that industry giants such as Ford, General Motors, Toyota, Daimler and BMW quadrupled their investment in production and export infrastructure in South Africa. More recently, Daimler announced it would invest a further R280 million by 2014 in its East London plant to produce next- generation Mercedes Benz C-class vehicles for export to global markets, including the USA.
Free and fair elections
With a record voter turnout of more than 50%, the Independent Electoral Commission declared the 2011 municipal elections free and fair. The Municipal Demarcation Board said the election would be remembered as the most successful not only in terms of the impressive voter turnout but also as significant in deepening democracy in South Africa.
Fewer companies closing down as economic recovery continues
Statistics South Africa has announced that fewer companies closed down in April 2011 compared to the same month last year. Adam Harris, a director in the insolvency and restructuring department at Bowman Gilfillan explained: “South African trend-lines for liquidations and insolvencies have clearly entered long-term downward trends. The decline for the three months to April 2011 compared to the same period in 2010 is sufficient to indicate that the economy had entered a recovery phase".
Transport: Infrastructure development
The Gauteng Department of Roads and Transport has announced that a specialist task team would be established to develop a new long-term transport plan for the province. The task team will be expected to deliver a five-year plan by January next year and a 25-year plan by March 2013, which has to be in line with the province’s 2055 vision as set out by the Department of Economic Development. Aspects that would be taken into account include human-settlement patterns, future growth nodes, the two new cities that are planned in the 2055 vision and bridging the gap in public transport. Other considerations include the expansion of the Gautrain, and formalising the taxi industry.
South Africa supports the United Nations Decade of Action for Road Safety
Government, under the leadership of the Department of Transport, fully supports the Decade of Action. Government has devised an engaging and multipronged programme involving all of society which seeks to reduce road deaths. The Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011 – 2020 aims to save lives by halting the increasing trends in road traffic deaths and injuries worldwide. Through the initiative, member states, with the support of the international community, commit to actions in areas such as developing and enforcing legislation on key risk factors; limiting speed; reducing drunk-driving; and increasing the use of seatbelts, child restraints and motorcycle helmets. Efforts will also be undertaken to improve emergency trauma care, upgrade road and vehicle safety standards, promote road- safety education and enhance road-safety management generally.
Africa on right education path
According to a report by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco), investment in education by sub-Saharan African countries is paying dividends, with more children than ever now attending school. Hendrik van der Pol, director of Unesco's Montreal-based Institute for Statistics comments: "The positive development is a reflection of increased commitment by sub-Saharan Africa to invest in education”.
South Africa sets aside R4,4 billion to boost research and development
The Department of Science and Technology received R4,4 billion to boost research and development in South Africa in 2011, much of which would be spent on developing human capital in the sector, as well as on the upgrade and expansion of necessary infrastructure.
Breadline Africa, a South African-based non-governmental organisation, has partnered with the Nelson Mandela Foundation and the NYK Helping Hand Scheme to provide a mobile library to a primary school in each of the nine provinces of South Africa as part of this year’s Mandela Day celebrations.
International repositioning of South Africa
South Africa was named the most valued African brand at the fourth Brand Finance Global Nation Brands League at the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. The awards, presented by Brand Africa in collaboration with Brand Finance plc (United Kingdom), look at the financial worth of a nation’s brand, considering its past and present financial position, and the strength of the nation’s brand. This reflects South Africa’s advancement broadly and recognises its successful hosting of the 2010 Soccer World Cup as well as acceptance into the Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) bloc. The award also acknowledges South Africa as an important emerging country in its own right.