Youth innovation is South Africa’s ticket out of economic rut – agency leaders

4IR
4IR
  • Government says it will gear its investments and support towards transformed, tech-driven youth initiatives which contribute to social benefit.
  • South Africa's economy contracted by 2% in the first quarter of 2020.
  • Tshepang Mosiea said the department's Grassroots Innovation Program existed to provide support to innovators who otherwise would not have access to support from formal research and innovation institutions.

Representatives of government-owned business support agencies said during a webinar on youth empowerment that in the coming years they would gear their investments and support towards transformed, tech-driven youth initiatives which contribute to social benefit.

The webinar was organised by the Economic Cluster and was held to wrap up discussions and events surrounding Youth Month. The webinar was themed youth development in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Participants agreed that the impact of the pandemic on jobs meant that government had to deepen its investment into youth entrepreneurship, especially where entrepreneurs showcase innovative tech-based ideas.

The webinar took place on the same day that Statistics South Africa announced that South Africa’s economy contracted by 2% in the first quarter of 2020, extending the country's technical recession as it continues to grapple with the health crisis.

Director for sustainable human settlements Tshepang Mosiea said the department's Grassroots Innovation Program existed to provide support to innovators who otherwise would not have access to support from formal research and innovation institutions such as traditional universities.

"There is a new society that is emerging. We have a lot of opportunities for youth to emerge with innovations that will solve societies problems. From waste management, to health, to education, all of these require innovation," said Mosiea.

Mosiea said the programme was interested in innovative concepts including artificial intelligence in journalism, data science and algorithms to improve sports, leveraging the internet of things to mitigate vandalism of infrastructure and 3D printed housing in the distant future.

"The youth can only take advantage of these changes and this emerging societies if they understand the context. They need to see the intersection between science, technology and human development. The youth must be aware, understand the context and see this new emerging society," Mosiea said.

He said initiatives including the Biomanufacturing Industry Development Centre, the Youth Science Journalism Programme and the Grassroots Innovation Program were implemented by Technology Innovation Agency, which supports innovators with novel ideas but are excluded from formal research and innovation driven institutions.

The Grassroots Innovation Programme included R260 000 for each grassroots innovator over the course of two years. This includes a R60 000 of this is a stipend to cover day to day costs, while the rest assists with Intellectual Property, mentorship and other costs.


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