Human resource development is one of the most pressing challenges facing South Africa, along with many other African countries.
This is the word from deputy-president Phumzile Mlambo-Nguka, today opening the International Association of Science Parks (IASP) World Conference in Sandton.
She outlined a number of both challenges and opportunities facing the continent, one of them being a young population.
"The majority of our populations are below the age of 35," she says. There is a huge opportunity to turn this young population into a creative energy force, but it poses a problem if this can't be achieved.
With Africa having just about the worst connectivity rates in the world, Mlambo-Nguka beleives there is an opportunity in terms of connecting the millions of people who could then benefit from e-government, e-commerce and many other services they are currently denied.
Tweaking applications for the local population is another challenge that science and industry should work towards, she adds.
Studies show that the take-up of previous or existing e-initiatives has been below expectation and she urges conference delegates to consider ways of addressing this gap.
It's important for South Africa to become a knowledge economy, Mlambo-Nguka says, and science parks could go a long way to addressing this need.
Two projects that could be addressed immediately include a way to utilise 2010 infrastructure after the Soccer World Cup; and ways to address the energy crisis – both in usage habits and in finding clean alternatives to coal-powered electricity.