ICT Sector Summit holds signing ceremony

JOHANNESBURG (12/08/2003) - Last week, the ICT Sector Summit held its signing ceremony, where the South Africa (SA) Minister of Communications, Doctor Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri, discussed the results of, and commitments obtained at, the summit.

The summit itself, which took place in June 2002, was based on decisions made at the Presidential Jobs Summit in 1998, by SA Government, organized labor, business and the community sector to hold sector summits.

Says the minister: "There has been an accelerated growth in the ICT sector in this country in recent years, and we should use the opportunity that this growth presents by consciously empowering historically disadvantaged people in this sector, so that we can actively participate in the growth of the economy, and also participate in the development of a global information society."

"Clearly, the national priority of ending poverty and underdevelopment in this country, and on the continent as a whole, has been taken seriously by the ICT sector. The importance of putting in place appropriate conditions for job creation is understood as part of our overall effort towards sustainable development and towards building our economy," adds the minister.

According to a document released after the signing ceremony, the ICT sector summit has agreed on a number of issues, namely:

-- The summit agreed to establish an agreement on overarching objectives for development in the sector.

-- It committed stakeholders to continued social dialogue, facilitated by Nedlac.

-- It agreed to develop proposals for joint research and information to generate viable plans and strategies.

Also, according to the document, a process was started so that agreement could be reached among partners on the finalization of principles -- a broad document aimed at creating jobs and eliminating poverty in the sector.

Other commitments agreed upon by the sector summit, in order to address the challenges in the sector, include:

-- Meeting RDP goals;

-- Promoting high level of local content and application development;

-- Promoting research and development;

-- Promoting education and skills development;

-- Promoting appropriate ICT usage to meet the aims and objectives of the sector summit;

-- Promoting BEE broadly in the sector;

-- Promoting rural development;

-- Supporting Nepad.

Furthermore, says the document, specific agreements were reached on universal service and access, HR development, on the social plan, restructuring at enterprise level, on investment and procurement. According to the document, the implementation plan will be driven by Nedlac and the steering committee.

"We need to ensure that we meet our national objectives of job creation, HR development and universal access. This sector agreement paves the way for the current challenges that we face to be overcome, and for these objectives to be reached. This agreement should not be seen in isolation from other important developments in the sector," notes the minister.

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