President Cyril Ramaphosa says there has to be life beyond the Covid-19 pandemic.
Ramaphosa was addressing a virtual Youth Day discussion on Tuesday focused on the Covid-19 pandemic, and he encouraged young people to take the lead in turning around the economy.
"We are looking forward to innovation and creativity and new ideas from young people. We want young people who are going to speak out and step forward. Covid-19 is pregnant with opportunities. So, I am throwing a challenge to young people to begin to see post-Covid-19. We need to set up different ways of running our economy, the ownership of the economy and managing our economy," he said.
This year marks 44 years since the Soweto uprising that claimed the lives of more than 200 people when thousands marched against the use of Afrikaans as a language of instruction.
The day, celebrated as Youth Day, ignited violent uprisings countrywide against the apartheid government.
Youth Day is commemorated every year with a public holiday on 16 June. Ramaphosa said young people would have to take the lead as technology would define our future.
"This is ushering in a new digital society. As young people, we need ask ourselves are we prepared living with the inequality that has persisted forever and in a day. We the young people of June 16, 1976, who said enough is enough, we want to see change… I believe that 2020 has ushered in that moment as young people. I beg for the ideas. I want young people to contribute to this new vision. I am convinced that we have to create a new economy."
Economist and director at Pax Africana Holdings Ndumiso Hadebe joined the panel discussion with Ramaphosa.
Hadebe said young people should grab the opportunity to shine.
"They have a platform to shine. There is a greater appetite for the ideas of young people. There is a new normal driven by technology. Young people are able to leverage that," he said.
According to statistics, there are 6.5 million people aged between 15 and 34 who are unemployed. South Africa has the highest rate of youth unemployment in the world.
Hadebe said, in order to address this, government needed to step in and lend support.
"We can support them so much more. It is also important link access (to markets) and success patterns," he said.
National Youth Development Agency CEO Waseem Carrim said Covid-19 would not derail their plans to invest in young people.
"We launched a campaign to fund 1,000 businesses in 100 days. Now we proud to announce the first 500 beneficiaries of that programme. We have built a pipeline for young people," he said.
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