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“We are certain that BRICS will contribute immensely to satisfying the employment and development needs of our young population,”President Zuma said in a speech at the Commonwealth conference in Pretoria.
Over a third of the population in South Africa is under the age of 15, according to 2011 Census figures.
“This makes us a nation with a future, and we must utilise all available resources to build that future. That future is our young people.
“Most of you are aware that in less than two weeks, the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC) are converging on our shores.”
The president said he was excited to be part of this grouping.
The BRICS Summit will take place in Durban on March 26-27.
“We expect… that many opportunities will be taken up by the business community of our country in particular, to promote investments into our beautiful country. Our BRIC partners do appreciate our youth employment and empowerment drive.”
Zuma said the 2008 financial crisis had caused rising unemployment, more poverty and income inequality, especially among the youth, around the world.
“Research undertaken… highlights the fact that youth have been disproportionately affected by low growth,” said the president.
According to recent figures, more than 40 per cent of those economically active and under the age of 30 in the country were unemployed.
“While this is worrying, there is also a positive angle. The OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) report highlights that countries which have higher numbers of youth in their population have better growth prospects than those with ageing populations.”
South Africa needs to reach an annual growth rate of at least 5 per cent in order to stimulate the job market.
“The National Development Plan outlines interventions that can put the economy on a better footing. The target for job creation is set at 11 million by 2030 and the economy needs to grow threefold to create the desired jobs,” he said in his State of the Nation address in February.
With inputs from Agencies