To create jobs, local government must prioritise access to the internet

2016-08-12 06:34

South Africa’s newly elected local government leaders must give priority to providing access to free, fast internet. In the modern economy, this is an imperative for job creation and for linking job seekers to opportunities.

Government cannot create the jobs South Africa needs, but it can create environments conducive to job creation. The internet and the technology sector is one the most promising tools we have to deal with unemployment and economic stagnation – as long as the environment supports them.

Entrepreneurship is a key driver to alleviating unemployment and with the advancement of continuous digital technologies any person with the desire to build their own business can do so by becoming a part of the online marketplace. The internet has broken down the proverbial walls of the traditional corporate economy, and allows anybody with a specific set of skills to market themselves online, on an array of different platforms for free. Social media, advertising platforms, online classifieds, forums etc. An opportunity of this magnitude cannot be ignored.

The internet is the ultimate ‘democratic’ business incubator.

There are several models abroad that have shown a significant increase in otherwise unemployed individuals becoming a part of the world of business through their access to ecommerce.

Mobile applications are so advanced that somebody with no form of transport can easily transfer money, build a website, create social media pages, network, communicate with clients all from the comfort of his or her own neighbourhood. But where access to the internet is limited, or priced beyond reach, potential entrepreneurs are shackled and find it almost impossible to enter the modern economy.

Some government institutions, such as libraries etc, that offer free internet, however, there are very few, if any, that provide Wi-Fi access. They are also very sparsely located and difficult for people to access.

While some municipalities are attempting to roll out free Wi-Fi, this must be expedited. The private sector must be encouraged to come on board as partners.

Free, reliable internet access is no mere convenience. The central central importance to the lives of people in a modern economy make it a priority.

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