26 July 2023 – The BuildRSA National Conference – South Africa’s first-ever, text-based conference – happened on the BuildRSA chat platform at https://buildrsa.co.za/ on 24 July 2023. It provided a platform for leaders, experts and stakeholders in different fields to present on various developmental problems facing South Africa and find innovative, sustainable solutions to resolving them together with other conference participants.
The BuildRSA chat platform was developed by Priority Performance Projects, which is part of Plus 94 Research, the largest independent, South African and black-owned research company in the country. BuildRSA aims to ignite personal agency, initiative and collective action to drive positive change.
Topics of discussion at the BuildRSA National Conference included problem solving in society and family life, employment and jobs, education and state-owned enterprises, business affairs as well as economic development and exploitation of African resources. The conference also highlighted eliminating poverty generally and eradicating it through technology as well as social cohesion.
The conference showcased successful problem-solving initiatives and strategies within Africa and beyond. It fostered collaborative discussions and knowledge sharing among theme leaders and delegates to develop actionable solutions and empower attendees with practical tools, insights and networks to address problem-solving challenges in various fields. South Africa’s journey towards sustainable development is hampered by numerous complex problems that need innovative solutions. Unfortunately, the process of problem-solving itself has become a major challenge, hampering progress across a variety of sectors.
A wealth of information, insight, ideas and inspiration came out of the conference, which highlighted the importance of prioritizing problem solving as a means to overcome the challenges that hinder South Africa from becoming a first world country. It was a wake-up call to collectively work towards resolving our issues and creating a better future.
Christiaan Du Plessis, the National Executive Director of FAMSA and Jeanne Fraser, the Director of FAMSA Upington kicked off the conference with a presentation on Problem Solving in Society and Family Life. It highlighted that families serve as the building blocks of communities, fostering a sense of unity and support and providing a safe space for individuals to express their concerns and work collaboratively towards finding innovative solutions. By instilling problem-solving skills within its members, families contribute to the overall well-being of society by nurturing resilient individuals equipped to tackle challenges with compassion and ingenuity. The importance of promoting positive parenting styles and discipline techniques that enable children to develop their unique identity and healthy self-esteem was also highlighted.
Chairman of Enterprise and Supplier Development Community of Practice, Litha Kutta, texted on Problem Solving in augmenting small business development programmes to be inclusive and effectively support small businesses to reduce poverty and unemployment. He highlighted that promoting and supporting small businesses is considered a crucial intervention in South Africa, aimed at driving economic development, job creation and poverty alleviation. The significance of the small business sector in the country’s economy is evident, with small businesses accounting for 60% of all jobs and contributing 40% to the GDP. Kutta also provided a range of valuable, practical solutions to assist entrepreneurs, including, but not limited to developing specialized small business development programmes that cater to specific sectors, improving the marketing of small business development programmes and imparting constructive feedback to unsuccessful entrepreneurs to support their growth.
In her comments on Problem Solving in Eliminating Poverty through Social Cohesion, Nothando Sigubudu, a social worker, mentioned the importance of the availability of more free mental health services and breaking the stigma around mental health issues.
A point coming out of the presentation on eradicating poverty through technology was that online learning platforms like educational apps and digital libraries can empower people in remote and underserved communities by giving them skills and knowledge that improves their employability and income potential. Another conference participant highlighted that Africa hasn’t used technology to its full potential, especially in the fields of healthcare and agriculture.
President of the Randburg Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Richard Ntjana, texted a frank, open presentation on problem solving in state-owned enterprises (SOEs). He typed that nearly all South Africa’s SOEs are unable to operate effectively and have required regular bailouts from government. Ntjana further noted that corruption, irregular and wasteful expenditure continue as there is lack of accountability and no measures to counter corruption and mismanagement. His presentation also highlighted that political appointments of boards and senior management, outside internationally-accepted corporate governance rules, has severely impacted procurement practices and company performance. He added that most SOE boards lack industry-appropriate skills, professionals, and diversity and that appointment of qualified key personnel needs to be a top priority. Conference participants stressed the desperate need to put effective systems in place to address corruption, which is tearing our country apart.
Dr Sifiso Falala, CEO at Plus 94 Research, presented on Problem Solving in Economic Development and Exploitation of African Resources. He highlighted that to promote growth and development, Africa should focus on diversifying its economy, invest in processing and manufacturing capabilities to extract more value from its resources, prioritise infrastructure development, put emphasis on education and skills development and prioritise good governance, transparency and anti-corruption measures.
Speaking about the conference, he says: “The conference was a truly unique experience due to its text-based format. It was the first-ever Textfrence, a term coined by BuildRSA to describe a text-based conference. It allowed for simultaneous and prolific participation, which enhanced engagement and collaboration among participants. The discussions were thought provoking. It was disheartening to learn that many problems are still unresolved, with a tendency to focus on symptoms rather than addressing underlying causes. This seems to be an entrenched, vicious cycle. I believe the Textfrence has sparked important conversations and will serve as a catalyst for positive change.”
To view the full BuildRSA National Conference discussion, visit: https://buildrsa.co.za/
A final Conference Report will be produced within a month.
Issued by: Papasha Media on behalf of BuildRSA
Enquiries: Ms Thandiwe McCloy – Public Relations Lead – Papasha Media
Tel: 010 0231 845 Cell: 083 696 6597
BuildRSA is an initiative for the greater good of the South African nation. It operates through dialogue that involves everyone that is interested in building a winning country. It is a platform not just for airing critical developmental topics, but also for finding suitable ways of resolving them before they cause degenerative damage to our country.
At BuildRSA, while acknowledging our problems, we believe that we can win together, and that South Africa can be counted among some of the most successful countries in the world. We recognise that we live in a world with an endless array of mouthpieces and communication platforms. What sets us apart is that we are truly South African, patriotic and are focused on solving these problems that hold our country down. We do this in a constructive way. BuildRSA is apolitical. We engage all topics that matter, including allowing citizens to express political opinions. Our rules demand that this be done in a constructive way in the interests of South Africa.
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