South Africa urged to swap mines for microchips, by Rebecca Harrison

Thursday, May 19, 2005

South Africa must end its dependence on raw materials and become an IT pioneer for the third world, industry and government officials said on Tuesday.
Opening an African technology research institute in Pretoria, Communications Minister Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri said South Africa must train information technology (IT) experts to plug a skills gap and transform an industry still dominated by white men 11 years after the end of apartheid.
And researchers should focus on inventing systems aimed at getting health, education and telecoms to the world’s poorest communities, often cut off by poverty and tough terrain.
Despite a booming cell phone industry almost half of Africans have never made a phone call and just 1.4 percent use the Internet, deterring investors seeking a computer-literate workforce.
“South Africa has a shortage of newly skilled people and this country has an opportunity to contribute … to the rest of the continent of Africa,” said Matsepe-Casaburri in a speech.
Llew Jones, stop-gap president of the new partly government-funded Meraka Institute, said technology was essential for a developed economy and South Africa could be particularly useful since it understood the needs of developing countries.
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Source: Reuters