The Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (the DTIC) has established a digital hub in the Botshabelo Industrial Park, in Mangaung, in the Free State, as part of a programme to bolster digital training and create jobs.
The revitalised Botshabelo Digital Hub site is one of ten digital hubs that will be established within various State-owned industrial parks across the country by the department.
The hubs fall under the DTIC’s revitalisation programme and form part of initiatives to support the rural and township industrial economy.
“The project seeks to bridge the digital divide among the township residents and equip young people with [the] skills and knowledge to prepare them for the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” said Trade, Industry and Competition Deputy Minister Nomalungelo Gina.
The digital hubs will serve as training centres for community members, provide access to information and communication technology (ICT) facilities and enable incubation for mainly young entrepreneurs operating in the ICT sector.
The digital hubs programme focuses on creating a central meeting point for technology, innovation and creative businesses in the areas surrounding the industrial parks.
This will support startup accelerator programmes, business incubators and training programmes.
“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 lines and operations, having a positive impact on competitiveness and business growth,” Gina said.
The DTIC refurbished the site for its operations and the project has gained the support of some investors, including the Small Enterprise Development Agency, which has approved an amount of R5-million to cover the hub’s operational budget and some capital expenditure.
“The absence of digital training in the region leaves a big gap in connecting entrepreneurship and the innovation ecosystem.
“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,” Gina commented.
The Botshabelo Industrial Park has developed into a critical industrial hub of Mangaung and houses about 154 fully operational factories.