Young South African entrepreneurs must engage with government in order to assist in creating a legal environment that suits the needs of their startups, according to South African president Jacob Zuma.
Zuma was speaking at the World Economic Forum (WEF) on Africa, which took place in Cape Town last week, when he said South Africa was looking to tackle unemployment by creating a new generation of entrepreneurs that could create jobs.
He said his government realised that youth participation was vital for South Africa’s future, and that it was important not to create a gap between today and the future.
“Youth has played a very important role in helping to contribute in shaping the future of South Africa, and we are very confident that youth will continue to do so,” he said.
“I think the youth is our main target as societies. Because they should be part of shaping the future. If they are not embraced by what is happening today, and we say they should only be embraced in future, then we are missing the point.”
Zuma said the South African government was coming up with programmes aimed at opening up more possibilities for young people. However, he advised young entrepreneurs to play a part in helping it put in place laws and regulations that allowed them space to innovate for the good of the country.
“What we need to be looking at is the innovation that is coming in. Are we dealing with the new kind of initiatives that are being taken? This is what we are trying to do. That is why we have got very specific youth programmes. But again we would want the youth itself to participate,” he said.
“For us to know that there are very specific things that need to be protected, that need to be given space, it is because we are part of it, we know what is happening. If we don’t know, it is going to be difficult to say what the laws are that we need to create.”
He said the joint participation between youth and society at large was important as it would inform what the government did in terms of encouraging entrepreneurship.
“We shouldn’t be thinking of yesterday when today we are doing something that is very forward looking. We shouldn’t be looking backwards. It is important that we work together to ensure we know what are the things that need to be done in order to ensure that your space is protected, what you do is given a platform, so that we are able to move forward.”