“WE have been taught how to become employable, instead of how to become employers.”
Dr Bridgette Gasa, a member of the National Planning Commission, yesterday encouraged young people attending a Youth Empowerment Seminar in Central, Port Elizabeth, to make use of the National Development Plan (NDP) in order to become entrepreneurs and innovators in their communities.
“I never thought I could own my own business.
“As South Africans our mindsets need to change in order to create employment, instead of sitting back, waiting to see what can be done for us.
“We need to exploit the opportunities the NDP offers,” Gasa, the keynote speaker, said.
According to Gasa, the “homework” has already been done for self-motivated and ambitious young people with the drafting of the NDP, which was released in November last year.
“Everything is there in terms of what will drive the economy of 2030 and how young entrepreneurs can create employment opportunities.
“We have far greater potential in the Eastern Cape than what we realise, with eco-tourism alone being enough reason to invest in the province,” she said.
Gasa, who has lived in the Eastern Cape for the past 20 years and is originally from rural KwaZulu-Natal, said it always amazed her that people born here, moved away looking to make money elsewhere in the country.
“The Eastern Cape is the labour pool of the rest of the country.
“This is bitter-sweet to me.
“Almost everyone in big industries in Gauteng, the mines in Mpumalanga, Gauteng and KZN – and don’t even get me started on the politicians – have a connection of birth with the province,” Gasa said.
Gasa personally drafted the fourth chapter on economic infrastructure of the NDP and said it planned for sufficient water, sanitation and housing and to strengthen the power grid for South Africa’s expected population of 58 million by 2030.
“At least 60% of this population will live in the urban areas and it is important that the growing economy will have the capacity to offer employment opportunities for young and old.
“The pool of young people feeding the economy needs to be better skilled in order to play a meaningful role in the country,” Gasa said.
According to her, if none of the key challenges addressed in the NDP are achieved, the most important goal – improving poor education outcomes – would not be realised.
“The youth will become our world leaders and if we fail them, we fail the country,” Gasa said.
In order to combat unemployment, Gasa said the economy needed to diversify.
Displaced townships situated far from places of employment and crumbling or non-existent infrastructure were also challenges.
Speaking on corruption, also one of the nine key challenges originally identified by the National Planning Commission, Gasa said the problem did not only lie within the public sector.
“I was excited to hear about Monday’s fine that the Competitions Commission imposed on the construction companies.
“The corrupter is often someone in the private sector who corrupts and bribes a public servant.
“Our people are discontented and disgruntled about public service delivery in South Africa and this is another challenge where something drastic needs to be done,” Gasa said.