Speech delivered by the Deputy Minister of Communications Pinky Kekana at South African Web Rangers Award Ceremony, 15 September 2018 at Marks Park Sports Club
Ms Phakamile Khumalo and Mr William Bird (Webrangers Coordinator) ,
Mr Fortune Mgwili-Sibanda Public Policy Manager at Google South Africa,
Ms Emilar Gandhi Public Policy Manager,
Ms Nobuntu Dubazana Film and Publication Board Council Member,
Ms Abongile Mashele Film and Publication Board COO,
Petronella Linders and Bhekisisa Ngcobo from Department of Telecommunication and Postal Services,
Cheryl Dinkelmann and Santhan Pillay from MTN,
Diana Schwarz from Diana Schwarz Attorneys,
Mr Walter Brown,
And our guests of honour our Webrangers,
Ladies and gentlemen,
The Internet is bigger than the sum of our fears", I wish I had said this but it was not me it was none other than Mr William Bird and I happen to agree.
"Young people... must be empowered to participate in the building of the information age. They must become the citizens of the global information society. And we must create the best conditions for their participation." I wish I had said this as well but I did not. This was said by our first democratic President Mr Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. I could not think of a better moment to call upon his wisdom as we celebrate the centenary year of his birth.
Master of Ceremonies, these two statements I have just quoted are not only thought-provoking, they are the reason why we are here today. Just like in 1995 when President Mandela made this statement at the International Telecommunications Union the world had its eyes on how South Africa would make a transition from a pariah state, which discriminated against its citizens on the basis of race to the extent that citizens were deprived to access of information and communication technology.
In the week gone by, the world's focus was back on South Africa, and again it was at the International Telecommunications Union hosted in Durban, our President Mr Cyril Ramaphosa emphatically declared, "It is our task to ensure that the 4th Industrial Revolution improves the human condition and that no one is left behind."
Everyone in this room seated here today is not only the reason for us being here but you have contributed to three critical things that will advance society. These are access to ICT, digital skills and most importantly digital literacy.
Equipping children with digital literacy and digital skills is not just a forward-looking act it is an act of great patriotism. For if we prepare our kids today with the skills required tomorrow, we are sure to pay it forward.
To put it differently program director, this web rangers initiative is in some ways the epitome of the Thuma Mina approach to societal problems. Government alone cannot move society forward we need the private sector, civil society and citizens to lend a hand.
Today we are in a room to review and celebrate this collective approach to bridging the digital divide. For the last three years, Media Monitoring Africa, has been running a programme with our sister Department the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services, the Film and Publications Board, Google, Facebook, and MTN.
Together these three distinct spheres of society have created digital citizens who know how to use the internet responsibly and encourage their peers to do the same. In essence, collectively we have a tool that can address the ills or dangers that come with the digital world.
And true to form because the internet is an exponential tool I have seen how this web ranger's programme has extended beyond the borders of South Africa. Our Kenyan sisters and brothers have benefited from the programme.
It gives me great pleasure to be with you today and say on behalf of the South African government thank you for being active digital citizens.
Thank you for being true patriots and flying the South African flag across the digital realm.
Web Rangers South Africa the world that you want to live in is in your hands and the work you have undertaken will shape our future for the better.
I thank you.
Issued by: Department of Communications