Thursday, 06 February 2020

Pretoria: South Africa and Germany have signed a joint initiative on the promotion of vocational training aimed at tackling the high unemployment rate in South Africa.

Youth unemployment in South Africa took centre stage as South African President Cyril Ramaphosa hosted German Chancellor Angela Merkel on an Official Visit on Thursday, at the Union Buildings, in Tshwane.

“I have made addressing the high rate of youth unemployment in our country a foremost priority of this administration. We have begun to implement the Presidential Youth Employment Intervention to address this challenge, which includes five priority actions over the next five years that will significantly reduce the rate of youth unemployment.

“An important part of this intervention is to provide young people with the skills that companies require, and to better align the skills development system with demand in the economy.

“We have to make sure that young people transition from learning to earning at a much faster rate,” President Ramaphosa said.

Chancellor Merkel arrived in the country on Wednesday at the invitation of President Ramaphosa for a two-day visit.

The visit follows the successful State Visit by the Head of State of the Federal Republic of Germany, President Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Cape Town, in November 2018.

Merkel backed her counterpart’s efforts to address South Africa’s unemployment rate, which tipped the scales at 29.1% in the third quarter of 2019.

“The education and training of young people is being done with great passion, and we would like to support you in this regard,” she said.

Cooperation on energy

The German Chancellor also expressed interest in supporting South Africa with its energy supply with particular focus on renewable energy.

“We would like to support you, especially in as far as renewable energy is concerned. We talked about the replacement of old power plants,” said the Chancellor.

Merkel’s interest comes just days after Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe announced at the Mining Indaba in Cape Town that government has agreed that owing to its energy challenges, it should allow mining companies to produce energy for their own use.

President Ramaphosa said while South Africa is still 89% reliant on coal, it has started its journey towards renewables.

“As we move forward, renewables will get a big boost following by the decision we have taken that companies can generate their own energy,” he said.

South Africa and Germany will meet again in March for the 10th meeting of the Bi-National Commission to fine tune technical aspects of the relationship between the two in fields spanning foreign and security policy, migration and humanitarian assistance, economy and energy development cooperation, environment, science and technology, arts and culture, labour and social affairs and vocational education and training.