The Botshabelo Digital Hub site has been revitalised and is ready to enhance job creation in the Free State. This is according to the Deputy Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition, Ms Nomalungelo Gina. Gina says the Botshabelo Digital Hub is part of the ten digital hubs that will be established across the country by the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (the dtic).
The project seeks to bridge the digital divide amongst the township residents and equip young people with skills and knowledge to prepare them for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Gina adds that the key objective of the initiative is to provide the youth and unemployed population with access to information and communication technology, and other facilities that will move them closer to business and job opportunities.
"The project has already gained the support of some investors, with the dtic having already refurbished the site for its operations. The Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA) has already approved an amount of R5 million to cover its operational budget and some for capital expenditure," adds Gina.
According to Gina, the absence of digital training in the region leaves a big gap in connecting the entrepreneurship and the innovation ecosystem. She adds that the digital hub will therefore help harness research into tangible innovation that could be commercialised and be a great benefit to both the public and the private sector.
The Botshabelo Industrial Park has developed into a critical industrial hub of Mangaung and houses about 154 fully operational factories. High-quality products from predominantly textile related factories are marketed throughout South Africa and exported worldwide.
"The establishment of the digital hub in Botshabelo will ensure that the participants are able to tap into the market that currently exists in this park and beyond. This could mean the ability to develop solutions that will help the factories to improve their production line and operations having a positive impact on competitiveness and business growth," adds Gina.
The digital hubs programme that the dtic will roll out in various provinces will focus on creating a central meeting point for technology, innovation and creative businesses in the areas surrounding the industrial parks. This will support start-up accelerator programmes, business incubators and training programmes.
The digital hubs will serve as training centres for community members, provide access to Information and Communication Technology (ICT) facilities, and incubation for mainly young entrepreneurs operating in the ICT sector. The hubs will be located inside the state-owned industrial parks that are currently supported by the dtic under the revitalisation programme and form part of initiatives to support the rural and township industrial economy.