Minister of Science and Technology, Mmamoloko Kubayi;
Deputy Minister for International Relations and Cooperation; Reginah Mhaule;
Deputy Minister for Higher Education and Training, Buti Manamela
Chairperson of the National Youth Development Agency, Sifiso Mtsweni
International guests and Members of the Diplomatic Corps
Ladies and gentlemen,
Let me extend a warm “Bela Bela” welcome to you all, especially those of you who have travelled from abroad. Bela Bela is the place of hot springs. I wish to congratulate the delegates of the Russian Federation for an excellent World Cup. And thank you for giving up the festivities of the FIFA World Cup Final, in order to be here.
You gather at a time when the world has within its reach sufficient per capita resources and intellect to address the foremost most challenges of unemployment, poverty and inequality. Although the world population grew from 5.3billion in 1990 to 7.6billion in 2017 fewer people remain in poverty if the Multi-Dimensional Poverty Index is utilised.
Indeed, what humanity has achieved shows that with all the necessary will and action a better world can be attained for all. At the same time, whilst the poverty rates may have fallen, the numbers of extremely poor people in the world remain too high with some 815 million people living in hunger and malnutrition. It is more alarming when one considers that 1 percent of the global population generated 82 percent of the wealth last year.
All this, despite the fact that there are enough work opportunities to engage all the people of the world and there is enough food to feed the world as well as adequate resources to address poverty and inequality.
What therefore distinguishes wealthier and poorer people and nations?
In inclusive societies where the gap between richer and poor is lesser prosperity tends to be higher, with one or two exceptions. By the same vain in societies with better prospects for education and training as well employment inequality tends to be far lesser. In societies where social cohesion, inclusion and availability of shared assets is greater the chances of success are far better.
Delegates; This gathering, therefore comes at a time when the voices of the BRICS nations have a window of opportunity when their experiences can shape the battle of ideas the world’s future. Indeed, by sheer numbers our countries constitute 41% of the world’s population.
In solving the challenges in our five nations we would have solved almost half of the world’s challenges. It is not beyond the bounds of possibilities seeing that we have the intellectual capital and lived experience.
Delegates; It is also significant that we convene this dialogue two days shy of a hundred years, since the birth of one of our struggle heroes and international humanists President Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. It is therefore fitting that in a few days our leaders will convene under theme “BRICS in Africa: Collaboration for Inclusive Growth and Shared Prosperity in the 4th Industrial Revolution”. In honour of Tata Madiba and Mama Albertina Sisulu, this dialogue and year is partially dedicated to their selfless and undying spirits.
We view this BRICS partnership as a further commitment towards a better world. In that context we see the mission of this generation to be one of securing economic liberation for the masses of our people in our respective countries and continents.
In entrusting you with this responsibility, we are confident of your capabilities and potential to grow and flourish. We therefore wish to applaud you for having selected the theme of “Radical Economic Transformation – Making the BRICS work for Youth” for this landmark dialogue.
We also see this as a landmark dialogue because of the bounds of possibilities our nations possess towards addressing our challenges.
We must therefore approach this dialogue with vigor, dedication, and selfless because as Mandela said “to be free is not to merely cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others”, so said Mandela.
As we journey along, we must remain cognizant of the fact that our nations are amongst some of the most impoverished and unequal societies in the world. Despite that, we have managed to record progress in key human development areas and can be source of peer learning in addressing the triple challenges of unemployment, poverty and inequality.
For instance, there are lessons to be learnt amongst us in relation to the manner in which the Government of the People’s Republic of China has placed great importance on employment which is the lowest amongst us and in the world, at less than four percent despite having the world’s largest population.
Despite this employment remains priority number one in China’s livelihood and growth strategies as well as in the 13th Five Year National Development Plan.
The underlying feature of that model has been a skills revolution which has lasted almost five decades. In this regard, the 2013 constituted Manpower Group as led by Russia will be instrumental to our common objectives of a skills revolution. Indeed, by improving our professional skills as well as our competiveness and quality of industry our task will be so much easier to achieve. This can, amongst others be achieved through skills exchange programmes which are oriented towards empowering our nations in their collective and respective competitive areas.
As we have said, our actions ought to direct themselves at enhancing the freedoms of others whilst fighting against poverty and inequality -there can be no sharper tool than the educating and upskilling of our people.
It is therefore upon this dialogue to come up with concrete and time bound youth oriented actions towards a youth driven skills revolution which will further equip our nations to take advantage of the fourth industrial revolution in the areas of our comparative and competitive advantages.
For an example all our nations are surrounded by the Oceans and Seas and all have fertile waterways and rivers, however very little has been said about this advantage. It is therefore imperative that our mooted skills revolution considers this and other areas including the areas that will further equip our societies with capabilities in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) areas.
Delegates; The global economy “is a woman”. With 70% of the world’s consumption demand being driven by women. In recognition of this and other realities South Africa has recorded some of the highest gender participation rates in areas such as politics. More needs to be done in other sectors and the United Nations Women informs us that women in the world get paid 23% less than men, wherein race can even make the situation far worse.
We must therefore pay particular attention to attaining gender mainstreaming and parity. Such a stance is not only in pursuit of social justice but several studies suggest a strong correlation between a country’s progress in closing the gender gap and its economic competitiveness.
Our approaches must employ innovation and embrace what is now known as the fourth industrial revolution.
India has successfully employed innovation and technology to support its development objectives by building the requisite know and skills in the area of technology, India has become one of the leading technology nations.
We must also remember that during our 2013 Summit, the African Union and its member states were participants in pursuant to our theme “BRICS and Africa: A Partnership for Development, Integration and Industrialisation”. Amongst some of the agreements was the commitments of the BRICS members to support Africa in its quest to sustainably develop its infrastructure.
Another outcome, which directly relates to this dialogue, was the decision that all our actions must be aligned to our common continental action plan known as Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want. In that context the Agenda dictates that we must aspire for a “people driven [development which relies] on the potential of people, especially… women and youth”. We must therefore be more deliberate in opening opportunities for young people who must play an active role in socio-economic activities of our countries.
In line with this objective and Agenda 2063 our National Development Plan espouses an inclusive economy. In promoting inclusion we must also pay some attention to culture as well as the role of Sports and Physical Activities all of which were subjects to the 2017 Brazil Human Development Report. The report and progress recorded in Brazil confirms that these are intrinsic to good health, sociability, cognition, productivity and the quality of life.
Programme Director, All the context and propositions we have thus far advanced require an active and well organised youth. We must therefore also pay attention to our institutional arrangements.
In so doing, we must find ways to bring on board ordinary youth in our respective countries particularly those in the rural, favelas, slum, and township areas.
This forum must emerge with practical and actionable outcomes that are measurable and time-bound. You therefore have the responsibility to be candid and robust in your deliberations, since over 80% of the World’s Youth could be impacted by your actions. You must also take back the outcomes of this forum to those hundreds of millions who await to also participate and benefit from our relations.
“Sometimes, it falls upon a generation to be great. You can be that great generation”, as Mandela once said
Let the festival of ideas and action blossom, let your greatness shine!!!
Xiè Xiè [Shi-Shi]