‘SA needs tech boost in case Trump recalls US companies’

Communications minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams
Communications minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams
Image: Eugene Coetzee

Communications minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams  is concerned that SA relies heavily on software produced by the West or the East and says its time government focuses on home-grown technologies.

Her reasoning is that if US president Donald Trump, for example, was to prevent all US companies from operating in SA, the country could be in trouble.

Ndabeni-Abrahams’s statements on Wednesday were made during a visit to Dalibaso High in Mqanduli, where she was accompanied by social development minister Lindiwe Zulu and justice deputy minister Nkosi Phatekile Holomisa.

A cyber lab, 100 school uniforms and a bursary to one of the school’s leading technology pupils were handed over by Ndabeni-Abrahams.

She said most technology came from the East or West.

In 2019, Trump ordered US  businesses to leave China, saying he had the authority to do so.

Ndabeni-Abrahams said: “Can you imagine if Donald Trump woke up tomorrow and said: “I am recalling all the US companies in SA”.

We don’t have our own software, our own technologies.

“Where would we be? What would we use to communicate?”

Together with the department of higher education, her department should create an SA identity for technology so that “our people develop their own applications'', she said.

Ndabeni-Abrahams said she viewed the fourth industrial revolution (4IR) as presenting an opportunity for SA to dictate the terms, especially since it was a mineral-rich country.

“Those building the technologies  do not have the minerals  we have.

“Whatever decision is taken, it must be SA first.

“the West and east fight  must not affect us if they want our resources.

“It must be on our terms,'' she said.

She said data science was the key skill required in the 4IR.

'As we talk about the 4IR era, one thing everybody agrees on is that data is the new oil.

“Data must be mined, analysed and then we can process it and store it,'' she said.

The ministers’ visit to Mqanduli was part of their department’s back-to-school campaign in rural Mqanduli, where they called at several schools and also conducted an oversight visit to the Post Office in the area.

The pass rate at Dalibaso, one of schools, has dropped to 69% from 79% the previous year, but the school has committed itself to a 100% pass rate at the end of 2020.

The minister believes the cyber lab could assist in the improvement of  their results.

The ministers  were in the OR Tambo district for two days. On Monday they visited schools in Ngangelizwe township in Mthatha as well as pupils  being trained in data sciences.

lulamilef@dispatch.co.za


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