Sporting Event
The final game of the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar took place on December 18, 2022, but it is still a trending topic. A nation that hosts a major sporting event not only gets to host the tournament but also can garner economic benefits. In general, such a great event requires long-term investments, which can contribute to reducing poverty in the host country. This article will explain how hosting a sporting event can help reduce poverty.

The FIFA World Cup 2010 in South Africa is a great example of how hosting a sporting event can help reduce poverty. The South African Government released the “2010 FIFA World Cup Country Report” to highlight ways that hosting the FIFA World Cup helped it reduce poverty. Here are the three ways that hosting a major sporting event downsized poverty in South Africa.

How Hosting a Sporting Event Can Help Reduce Poverty

  1. Long-term investments: International sports institutions announce the host country many years in advance as there is a need for long-term investment in many sectors, from construction to hospitality. According to the country report, South Africa spent more than $3 billion on building and renovating stadiums, restoring and developing transportation links and developing new technologies. This was the least amount spent on hosting a FIFA World Cup in the last two decades. Hosting the FIFA World Cup 2010 resulted in economic growth in South Africa in the following years. According to the Statistics Department of South Africa, the country recorded a 4.8% growth in GDP in the second quarter of 2011 compared to a 3.1% growth in GDP in the same period of 2010, which was a result of new investments in the country.
  2. Job creation: In conformity with the observations of the economist Dr. A Saville, investing in infrastructure to prepare for the tournament created 66,000 new jobs paying $1,126 a month each. Additionally, job creation contributed more than $225 million to low-income households. In addition to the construction sector, tourism was also one of the key sectors that benefited from the event significantly. In 2009, around 9.5 million tourists visited South Africa, whereas, in 2010, South Africa hosted the FIFA World Cup; this number exceeded 11 million. Since then, the country has received more and more tourists, except for during the COVID-19 pandemic era. More than 15 million visitors arrived in South Africa in 2016, which is the highest record of arrivals in the country’s tourism sector so far.
  3. Raising the country’s prestige: Hosting the FIFA World Cup encouraged the South African government to reduce crime. As a result, the government spent more than $140 million to secure safety and security in the country. Therefore, the country became attractive both for foreign investors and tourists.

Looking Forward

Hosting FIFA World Cup 2010 was a milestone in South Africa’s recent history. Thanks to direct and indirect investments in South Africa within the tournament framework, the country created new jobs in various sectors, contributing to reducing poverty in the country. South Africa is one example of how hosting a sports organization can help reduce poverty.

Seeing the rise of African teams in the latest tournament, FIFA and other international sports associations should consider giving developing countries a chance to host a worldwide tournament.

– Murathan Arslancan
Photo: Flickr

Renewable Energy in South Africa
The transition to renewable energy in South Africa has been an uphill battle considering the nation’s historically heavy reliance on coal. However, ongoing efforts by the nation to accelerate the transition toward renewable energy sources offer cause for optimism.

South Africa’s Dependence on Coal

South Africa’s energy sector is highly dependent on non-renewable energy sources, namely coal. In 2021, coal-fired power stations accounted for more than 84% of South Africa’s energy with clean energy sources constituting just 13.7%.

The environmental consequences of the nation’s overreliance on coal are notable: in 2019, South Africa stood as the 12th highest emitter of carbon dioxide in the world. Moreover, the economic consequences of a coal-dominated energy sector are devastating for many South Africans as the nation’s economy continues to recover from the pandemic.

Ongoing Challenges with Energy Grid Failures

In South Africa, the need to address energy poverty is pressing as about 3.4 million households in the nation lacked electricity in 2015, according to the South African government. A recent strike in June 2022 by workers at Eskom, South Africa’s state-owned energy company, has led to prolonged electricity blackouts, amplifying already existing problems with the outdated, deteriorating coal-fired power stations and mismanagement. For many South Africans, these blackouts can mean up to eight hours per day without electricity.

Since 2008, Eskom has relied on load-shedding, or rotating blackouts, to mitigate the impact of the nation’s insufficient energy supply on consumers. The economic consequences of the more frequent blackouts in 2022 are severe, exacerbating inequality in a nation where more than half of the population lived in poverty in 2014, according to the latest World Bank data.

Amid the energy blackouts, poor families living in informal settlements and townships face disproportionate impacts and demand for electricity is only increasing as South Africa rapidly urbanizes. These recent energy grid failures and their negative repercussions on poverty point to the need to diversify South Africa’s energy sector.

Notably, South Africa has made substantial progress in expanding electricity access in the past — between 1994 and 2012, household electrification increased from 36% to an unprecedented 87%. Renewable energy sources have the potential to continue to fill the nation’s current void, alleviating the energy poverty that millions still experience. In 2014, South Africa’s Department of Energy set a target to provide electricity to 3 million households through the grid and an additional 300,000 households using non-grid solar energy, projected to resolve 90% of backlogs. While South Africa has not yet achieved this goal, the government has begun to zero in on renewable energy as instrumental to its approach.

South Africa’s Governmental Response

On July 25, 2022, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a series of interventions his government will take to address the energy crisis. Measures proposed include doubling the acquisition of renewable energy this year to more than 5,000 megawatts and providing incentives for households and businesses with rooftop solar panels to sell excess solar power to Eskom to reduce the need for load-shedding. These efforts to increase private sector energy generation are a necessary first step to facilitating this transition toward renewable energy in South Africa.

While these measures are an important start, South Africa will need to spend an estimated $250 billion over the next 30 years to finance shutting down coal-powered plants and transitioning to wind and solar power. Public resources lack the funds to provide sufficient backing for this effort. At the U.N. Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland in November 2021, the U.S. along with European nations pledged only $8.5 billion to help South Africa transition away from coal. Thus, a significant contribution from the private sector will be critical.

According to Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe in December 2021, the South African government allocated $2.8 billion in contracts for 25 renewable energy projects to the private sector. These projects include wind farms and photovoltaic plants and should increase South Africa’s electricity capacity generation by nearly 5%.

Additionally, several companies are turning to solar energy, including South African Breweries (SAB), one of the nation’s largest companies. SAB aims to withdraw from Eskom’s grid, with the goal of sourcing 100% of its electricity from renewable energy by 2025. So far, these initiatives have shown promise: in 2021, SAB’s decision to transition to solar power resulted in more than 9,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions reductions.

New Investments in Renewable Energy in South Africa

As of August 2022, USAID and Prosper Africa are overseeing a delegation of U.S. investors with more than $1 trillion in assets visiting South Africa to meet with fund managers, looking to invest in the nation’s transition to renewable energy.

This visit also coincides with the U.S. government’s attempts to deepen diplomatic ties with South Africa. On August 8, 2022, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with South African Minister of International Relations Naledi Pandor to discuss the ongoing partnership between the two nations in trade and investment. Going forward, an active and continued diplomatic relationship between the two nations will be essential to achieve progress.

Looking Toward a Brighter Future

The possibility of large new investments in renewable energy in South Africa indicates a potential future of increased trade between the U.S. and South Africa. The transition away from coal-dominated energy will have transformative effects on the nation’s economic development, reducing poverty and deep-rooted inequality by creating a stronger, more reliable power grid and simultaneously reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Furthermore, the renewable energy industry represents an opportunity for tremendous job creation and increased economic opportunities.

– Oliver De Jonghe
Photo: Flickr

WAFCON Win Supports Income EqualitySouth Africa beat Morocco 2-1 in the Women’s African Cup of Nations final on July 23, 2022, in Rabat, taking home the country’s first-ever trophy from WAFCON and first continental title. The team’s accomplishment also highlighted the staggering difference between female and male earnings. The WAFCON win supports income equality efforts by sparking more concern for equal pay.

Income Inequality in South Africa

Income inequality is an unsavory reality for female athletes in South Africa. Nicknamed Banyana Banyana (Girls Girls), the women’s team players earn far less: R4,000 for a competitive match draw and R5,700 for a win, about $238 and $340, respectively, compared to the men’s R30,000 and R60,000, $1790 and $3580. Bafana Bafana, the men’s team, also receive regular salaries from their clubs. Female players, like Andile Dlamini and others on Banyana, receive only an R500 monthly stipend.

The gender pay gap extends beyond the sports arena. South Africa has a median gender pay gap between 23% and 35%, which exceeds the global average of 20%. Unequal earnings persist in households as well: 38% of homes are managed by women, and such households are 40% poorer than ones managed by men. In addition, 48% of women-led households support extended family members compared to 23% of their male counterparts. In this regard, unequal earnings plus proportionally higher economic demands on women call further attention to South Africa’s income inequality.

Since the 90s, the gender wage gap median decreased from 40% to 16%. UNU-WIDER, a United Nations research institute, emphasizes that the closing gap stalled at 16% in 2007 and has not changed. The lowest pay for female workers increased to match their male counterparts in middle-paying positions, but women earners still disproportionally earn less.

UNU-WIDER calls this the “sticky floor” effect, where socio-economic conditions constrain a specific demographic to the bottom of the job scale. Today, South African female workers still occupy the highest proportion of the lowest earners and rarely occupy the highest-paying jobs.

A Way Forward to Equal Pay in South Africa

A few days after South Africa’s WAFCON win, President Cyril Ramaphosa promised equal pay for the women’s national team through funding from the country’s ministers of finance and sports. Danny Jordaan, president of the South African Football Association, echoed the need to follow in Sierra Leone’s footsteps and remedy the pay disparity between men and women in sports. Ultimately, Banyana received an extra R5.8 million from the sports ministry to supplement the R9.2 million bonus from SAFA, $345,320 and $547,788, respectively.

Ramaphosa also highlighted how the WAFCON win supports income equality by using it as an opportunity to tackle the gender pay gap in all of South Africa. The president stated that in addition to awarding Banyana the pay they deserved, the country must eliminate unequal pay in all other sectors of the economy.

The WAFCON win shows how female success helps combat gender inequality. While bringing pride to South Africa, the women’s national team also used the spotlight to highlight unequal treatment and generate support for bridging the pay gap. With leaders in politics and sports now backing efforts to eliminate pay discrimination, there is continuing hope for progress.

– Emily Xin
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Childcare in South AfricaPoor urban merchants set up open-air stalls on sidewalks and unused motorways in the lively urban center of Durban, South Africa. Their offerings range from cooked bovine heads to traditional indigenous medicines. Over half of these nearly 25,000 merchants are women; many have children or infants who spend their days alongside their working mothers. A simple convertible wooden box is easing the strains of childcare in South Africa for these street-vending mothers. They are balancing myriad responsibilities in an often chaotic environment.

Working Mothers

Mothers with newborn babies are among the most vulnerable of these working women. Street vendors are informally self-employed, so they do not receive paid maternity leave. They must bring their children to work with them if they want to subsist financially. However, this working environment includes hot stoves and endless flows of passing city-goers, among other safety hazards. The noise and pollution of the bustling urban street market disrupt activities like breastfeeding and putting children down for naps. Few spaces are safe for these children to spend time as their parent works.

Some mothers began to use their storage crates, customarily filled with their vending supplies during the night but empty during the day, as a place to rest their babies. This sparked an ingenious idea of alleviating the difficulties that mothers working on the street face. 

The Umzanyana

The organization Asiye eTafuleni, a South African non-profit that focuses on inclusive planning and design, took this use of the storage box one step further. The organization partnered with these women to design a convertible wooden box that met many of their needs as vendors and as mothers throughout the day. The storage box can transform to serve as a tabletop, a playpen, a changing station, or a crib. It includes padding, sheets, and even a mobile for the baby to engage with. It can provide privacy, shade, and noise reduction for the baby while maintaining its operationality as a tool for selling goods. 

The box was dubbed an “Umzanyana,” which translates from isiZulu to “umbilical cord.” This is quite fitting, as an umbilical cord and the box both serve as something that connects mother and baby, allowing the mother to provide for the child’s needs.

Technology and Poverty

Seemingly small innovations like this can make a massive difference in the daily lived experiences of impoverished communities. A few tweaks to a wooden box improved childcare in South Africa for both parent and child.

The Umzanyana solves convenience problems, making it easier for mothers to maintain their income while keeping their babies safely near them. Research shows that when mothers and babies can be together all day long, it leads to better sleep and breastfeeding for the baby and increased confidence for new mothers. The Umzanyana improves the lives of not only the mother but the child as well.

Organizations like Asiye eTafuleni continue to work alongside these communities, utilizing their unique insights to improve the lives of the most vulnerable through technology and urban design.

– Grace Ramsey
Photo: Flickr

South African Youth Poverty
The South African mobile communications company, Vodacom Group Limited, is launching a new app that targets the rising South African youth poverty. As South African smartphone use is on the rise among young adults, the new app directly connects individuals in need of jobs with those hiring to reduce youth poverty quickly. Also, the goal is to, hopefully, over time, decrease the adult South African poverty rates.

South African Youth Poverty

As of 2020, six out of 10 children in South Africa live in “multidimensional poverty.” That figure translates to 62.1% of South African youth who live in poverty. Multidimensional poverty considers factors beyond economic disadvantages and includes other factors, such as food insecurity, poor health and lack of education.

When considering the elements of multidimensional poverty, most experts place their hopes of decreasing poverty or unemployment rates on improving education for South Africans. However, there is more to do when individuals who have what qualifies as a “good education” remain unemployed and incapable of escaping poverty.

South African youth make up 35.7% of the country’s overall population and their unemployment rate soars above the general South African unemployment national average, which is 34.5%. The youngest graduating group, 15-24-year-olds, has had an unsteady unemployment rate, but it reached 63.9% in the first quarter of 2022.

The second-youngest group, those aged 25-34, has an unemployment rate of 42.1%, according to Statistics South Africa. Vodacom hopes to target these numbers at their source and get those graduating jobs as soon as possible before poverty becomes an insurmountable force.

Vodacom’s Impacts on South African Youth Poverty

Get-A-Gig is not Vodacom’s first attempt to decrease poverty in South Africa, especially among the South African youth. The company has expressed its dedication to assisting with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in South Africa. There are several goals, but Vodacom has announced its desire to focus on the SDGs of improving education and helping South Africans find reliable work and income. To improve and expand access to education in South Africa, Vodacom created a school management application that helps students stay on track in their lessons and track academic growth. Furthermore, Vodacom has invested more than R7.9 million in schools to improve resources and empower teachers.

The youth employment program in the hiring and recruiting phases by Vodacom offers a position to recent college graduates, regardless of age, that comes with full benefits and salaries. The youth employment program provides two years of required training before transitioning to a full-time employee role at Vodacom. This program will launch in February 2023. However, in the meantime, Get-A-Gig will help South African youth seeking a job to find one outside of Vodacom.

How Does Get-A-Gig Work?

The new app targets South African youth via phone usage. Smartphones are standard in South Africa, with 41% of South Africans between 18-34 having smartphones. Meanwhile, other age groups fall further behind in smartphone ownership, for example, only 27% of those 35 and older have their own smartphones. Smartphones are a daily household object with the number of young adults utilizing cell phones growing yearly. The daily usage of smartphones in South Africa is also on the rise, especially among younger South Africans. This is the age group Vodacom is trying to reach with Get-A-Gig.

Vodacom launched the app through one of the company’s easily accessible platforms, NXT LVL. The app helps individuals search for jobs and connect them with business owners. The users can then begin a quick application and hiring process to minimize the time someone is out of a job. The app is free and available through the, My Vodacom App and VodaPay, which are also free.

At the announcement of the app’s launch, the Chief Officer of Consumer Business at Vodacom, Jorge Mendes, immediately clarified the app’s intention to target unemployment and poverty in South African youth, “As we innovate and bring new propositions to the market, we are mindful of the challenges that consumers at large face. The revamp of the NXT LVL platform and the launch of Get-A-Gig are some of the initiatives we introduced, aiming to make a meaningful difference in the lives of young South Africans,” IT News Africa reported.

The continuation of targeting poverty and unemployment in South Africa indicates Vodacom’s dedication to assisting South African youth. Get-A-Gig’s usage will mean South African youth can easily find jobs and that there will be fewer barriers keeping South Africans living above the poverty line. South African poverty and unemployment remain an issue. Still, it is the assistance of companies like Vodacom, that make it possible to see a future without these plaguing issues.

– Clara Mulvihill
Photo: Flickr

Gentrification in South Africa
Cape Town, South Africa, is a booming city with ocean views and surrounding mountains that attract many visitors, developers and wealthy foreigners each year. As a result, gentrification in South Africa is becoming a serious issue that is increasing the barriers that low-income black and mixed-race residents face. Hotels, shops and luxury apartments are taking over predominantly mixed-race neighborhoods and threatening the livelihoods of many longtime residents as wealthier white people replace these communities. As a result, many low-income Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) residents are facing eviction. Due to the influx of these wealthy investors, real estate prices have skyrocketed, pushing low-income residents into townships or underdeveloped informal settlements.

Segregated Townships

During apartheid, the government racially segregated townships and reserved these areas for non-white residents only. Following the end of apartheid in 1994, the elite white population took ownership of “land and other assets” left to them by the apartheid government, thus retaining their power in the nation. This demonstrated the apartheid government’s resistance to a potential loss of international investors in that the Black population continued to be sequestered into townships with little resources or agency and foreign investors continued purchasing the power of the state.

As gentrification in South Africa continues, the remnants of apartheid remain with many BIPOC South Africans living in townships. The government builds these townships on the edge of cities, creating long, expensive work commutes for their low-income residents who do not legally own the township land, thus perpetuating a cycle of poverty. As U.S. News states of advocates in the field, “Gentrification, they argue, is draining the color from one of the so-called rainbow nation’s most prominent cities.”

The Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP)

Following apartheid, the implementation of the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) resulted in the establishment of more than 3.6 million new homes throughout the nation, offered for free to those with an income of less than 3,500 rand (about $218) per month. Despite this progress, in reality, the RDP is strengthening the remaining apartheid systems by continuing to push poor residents into settlements at the edges of cities, thus allowing for increased gentrification in South Africa. Oftentimes, after obtaining an RDP house after a 10-15 year waiting period, RDP house recipients will illegally sell the house for about one-third of the price the government paid to construct it. In the yard of the property, individuals choose to build shacks to live in and run businesses using the money from the RDP house sales.

The Statistics

  • The barriers that exist for low-income BIPOC residents are particularly evident in the workforce and in access to resources. As The New York Times states, “During apartheid, Black education had been a consignment to permanent poverty. The Bantu educational system had been set up to churn out vast numbers of low-skilled, low-wage Black workers to feed into mining operations.” A significant barrier that Black residents face is the lack of access to capital needed to start a business.
  • In 2017, The New York Times reported an unemployment rate of about 28% in South Africa.
  • The same New York Times report states that less than 50% of the employable population in South Africa is officially employed.
  • The report continues to state that about 10% of the South African population owns 90% of the nation’s wealth, with white people accounting for a majority of this 10%, indicating deep wealth disparities among South Africa’s residents.
  • About 80% of South Africa’s populace, mostly Black, “owns nothing at all.”

Recent Progress

On March 24, 2022, the legislature passed the Township Economic Development Bill in the Gauteng province of South Africa. This bill introduces measures that will increase economic opportunities for those living in townships, lessen the class divide and promote more supplier development and active enterprise. Instead of acting as just reserves for unemployed individuals, townships will actively employ job-creating activities with the support of this bill.

Parks Tau, Gauteng MEC for Economic Development, Environment, Agriculture and Rural Development, has stated that the Township Economic Development Bill is a “developmental legislative framework that addresses economic, geographical and social inequalities” by way of “bringing Gauteng townships closer to mainstream economic opportunities.”

Looking Ahead

Many people living in townships in South Africa inherited the burden of the inequalities that existed in the apartheid system. Gentrification in South Africa reinforces the remnants of apartheid by pushing out low-income BIPOC residents into townships. By introducing legislation to protect these neighborhoods, South Africa can lessen the socioeconomic divide.

– Kimberly Calugaru
Photo: Flickr

Health Care in South Africa
With the ongoing ramifications of the pandemic that began in 2020, the world recognizes how much life has become integrated with digital technology. Some regions, like South Africa, have turned that growing dependency to their advantage. South Africa carries a large population, more than 30 million of whom live in poverty, according to a study finished in 2015. However, with technologies more readily available, health care in South Africa is changing for the better.

Digitization has impacted business, trade, learning, recreation and a whole slew of social aspects. In many ways, bringing a community up-to-date with 21st-century technology correlates with benefits. According to the World Bank, which actively promotes affordable broadband Internet access, the web is a tool that can help in “the delivery of essential services such as education and health care, offers increased opportunities for women’s empowerment and environmental sustainability and contributes to enhanced government transparency and accountability.”

A Continent’s Digital Coming-of-Age

Unfortunately, not every country in the world enjoys easy wi-fi access. According to statistics from 2017, a mere 22% of the whole African continent had access to the internet. Global organizations have implemented various programs over the years to offer more stable and effective wi-fi to Africa. The African Union, partnering with the World Bank Group, hopes to grant access to everyone on the continent by 2030.

Over the past two years, South Africa showed determination (and profits) in building up its digital proficiency. In 2020, South Africa witnessed an influx in online presence due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a response, in April 2020, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa gave 4G and 5G frequencies to operators to meet the increased demands.

In 2021, the e-commerce market in South Africa increased, garnering a total of $5 billion, and putting the nation’s e-commerce income above that of Iraq. Furthermore, South Africa sported a robust 68.2% of its population as internet users at the onset of 2022, having increased somewhat from a year prior. Digital updates and more wi-fi usage are even multiplying real health benefits.

Health Care in South Africa

South Africa takes the lead when it comes to the region’s medical advancements. It has the best hospitals in the southern part of the continent, yet there are still many barriers within the health care system.

According to 2019 statistics from the World Bank, there are 0.8 physicians for every 1,000 people in South Africa. In rural areas, access to health care remains inadequate. Lured by the appeal of private practice, many physicians abandon public practice. The public system relies on government subsidies and suffers from underfunding and a shortage of resources. Meanwhile, a stronger although more selective group of private physicians cater to middle- and upper-class people and are able to acquire better supplies. About 80% of doctors operate in this private sector, which means they only offer care to approximately 20% of the country’s populace.

Depending on one’s income, the fees and health care coverage vary. However, some 3,500 health institutions offer cost-free care for expectant mothers and children younger than 6. Alternative or traditional medicine is widely practiced with more than 90% of rural South Africans utilizing these services to some extent.

South Africa’s government aims to develop a national health insurance program in order to improve national health, offer more affordable health care and eliminate inequalities regarding patient treatment.

Digitizing the Health Care System

Some of the steps taken to improve health care in South Africa have less to do directly with policy and more to do with integrating up-to-date technology. Both are necessary, but new technologies will particularly focus on streamlining the health care process.

Pharmacies seek to incorporate e-commerce models. Luis Monzon, of IT News Africa, said that “These systems of quick and convenient dispensation of medicines are a boon for individuals who require chronic medicines but struggle with travel.” Thus, digitization in this sector helps those least able to help themselves.

“We’re seeing a range of innovations in areas such as medical practice management, patient health care records, telehealth and remote health care, as well as low cost but high functioning medical devices,” says Sheraan Amod, CEO of RecoMed, a South African online marketplace specializing in health care. “The future looks incredibly bright for African healthtech innovation,” Amod said to IT  News Africa.

Telehealth provider Udok, which emerged in 2018, aims to “facilitate the delivery of online doctor consultations” by “providing remote consultations directly to patients and via pharmacy clinics.” The Udok platform allows health care practitioners to consult via videoconferencing while recording a patient’s medical information in order to diagnose a patient remotely in real-time. Udok has partnered with one of South Africa’s major pharmacies, Clicks, and will be available in about 200 Clicks pharmacies across the country. Udok-based virtual consultations are also cost-effective, which increases the accessibility of health care services.

Looking Ahead

In a country where differing medical protocols and lack of physician availability upset the system, the digital era, which is steadily on the rise in South Africa, offers increased access to necessary medicines, information on symptoms and other perks. Platforms like Udok help transform the health care landscape for the better. With the prioritization of policies on the one hand and digital transformation on the other, the bright future for health care in South Africa appears to be quickly approaching.

– John Tuttle
Photo: Flickr

Aviro Health
In 2015, a quarter of the global disease cases existed in the sub-Saharan region of Africa. Yet, only 3% of the world’s doctors reside in this region. Access to health care is crucial in maintaining a functioning society. Aviro Health, a company based in Cape Town, South Africa, is extending accessible health care and information to patients across the country while improving treatment options and the overall health of sub-Saharan Africans.

Health Care in South Africa

There are more than 600 hospitals in South Africa, including the third-largest globally, the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, which holds 3,400 beds and 6,760 staff members. Around 400 of these hospitals are public and the remaining 200 are private. Public health care is available to all people living in South Africa “regardless of nationality or immigration status.”

Many people face challenges when physically traveling to medical centers despite their availability. According to the World Bank, only one-third of those living in rural areas of Africa reside within two kilometers of adequately paved road systems. Technological advancements that allow health care practitioners to virtually conduct appointments would greatly benefit those in desperate need of health care.

About Aviro Health

Aviro Health in South Africa began in 2012. It is a technology company based in Cape Town that develops digital innovations that assist both health care practitioners and patients. The established vision of the company has stated that “We see a world in which everyone gets medical information and healthcare that is accessible, efficient, and delivered with empathy and understanding.”

Aviro staff members aim to provide services through technology, which would allow those who encounter difficulties traveling to medical centers in person to still receive information and treatment. Medical practitioners receive further training in the form of e-books and videos and patients can learn more about testing and diagnoses through e-learning. Technology benefits that Aviro Health in South Africa developed are also available to health care professionals in Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Malawi. Since its foundation, Aviro has assisted more than 50,000 users in accessing medical services.

The Pocket Clinic

A significant technological innovation developed by Aviro Health in South Africa is the Aviro mobile Pocket Clinic. This innovation is a digital counseling service used by health professionals in both the private and public sectors in South Africa. The Pocket Clinic allows medical counseling through mobile phones or other technological devices. Patients can manage their health care digitally while also connecting to health care providers.

The service provides users with a medical content plan based on their medical tests that users can receive via the web, the platform app or Whatsapp. The Pocket Clinic can also connect patients to other health experts and services that could provide hands-on treatment. The Pocket Clinic serves as a life-changing tool that the medical field can use to assist health care practitioners and patients in delivering and efficiently receiving care. The Aurum Institute partnered with Johns Hopkins University offering self-HIV tests in the lobbies of health care centers “supported by the Aviro Pocket Clinic on tablets.” This led to a “40% increase in testing” along with an 80% increase in HIV treatment uptake.

HIV/AIDS Testing

South Africa is home to the world’s largest HIV treatment initiative. Yet, as of 2021, South Africa noted 7.8 million HIV cases, with only 4 million people receiving treatment in the country. In the age of COVID-19, many people find it difficult to travel to medical facilities to receive testing and treatment.

Fortunately, the Pocket Clinic offers self-tests for patients without requiring the presence of a health care professional. This method also promotes increased patient privacy. A soft launch of self-HIV tests by Aviro Health in South Africa generated positive results. In Kwazulu-Natal, 7.5% of service users tested positive for HIV and began ARV treatment in contrast with only 2.5% in conventional clinical-based testing.

Pocket Clinic also connects those who test positive to an HIV hotline. In the next five years, Aviro Health anticipates making self-tests available to 10 million people in the sub-Saharan region.

A Future of Health

Technological advancements in health care that Aviro Health in South Africa developed improve overall health in the country. Innovations that individuals can access virtually will provide better testing and treatment for patients across the nation.

– Megan Quinn
Photo: Flickr

Unemployment in South AfricaUnemployment in South Africa reached new highs at the end of 2021, equating to more than 7.9 million individuals between October and December 2021. Typically, high unemployment rates spur predictions of economic decrease and little mobility for the coming fiscal year. The finance ministry expects South Africa’s economic growth rate to reach 2.1% in 2022, however, experts say this is insufficient “to make a meaningful dent in unemployment and poverty.” Despite the economic downturn that South Africans face, especially South African manufacturing and construction workers, there is some hope.

History of Unemployment in South Africa

Unemployment in South Africa has an extensive history and myriad reasons. The unemployment rate is dependent on which unemployment type one is referring to. There is the “standard definition” by which people between 15 and 64 actively search for employment while without a job for a specific time. Then, the expanded definition of unemployment refers to the unemployed “who have stopped looking for work.”

By the end of 2021’s third quarter, unemployment in South Africa stood at 34.9%, according to the standard definition, but stood at 46.6%, according to the expanded definition. Countless factors contribute to unemployment in South Africa. The most significant factors stem from the nation’s “legacy of apartheid,” shortages of jobs and “slow economic growth.”

Unemployment began to drop in South Africa after 2002 when the nation’s unemployment rate was about 34% if using the standard definition. It fell to 22%, the lowest percentage for decades, in 2008, but then, the unemployment rate began to rise again over the years. The 2008 recession hit the global economy and impacted jobs worldwide. South Africa has yet to recover from its losses in 2008. Furthermore, COVID-19 exacerbated the economic downturn and unemployment issues in South Africa.

COVID-19’s Impact on Construction and Manufacturing Workers

Specifically, the losses seem to be impacting the construction and manufacturing industries most in South Africa. Across South Africa, all the provinces had more than 1.3 million employees in the construction industry in the first quarter of 2020. By the last quarter of 2021, the construction industry lost at least 25,000 jobs.

Manufacturing in South Africa is suffering just as much economic downturn as construction, though, having lost 80,000 jobs in the last quarter of 2021. The manufacturing sector faced a 3.3% economic contraction in 2008. Like many areas of South Africa’s economy after the recession, manufacturing is still working to bring back more jobs and support all its workers. Though the outlook may be grim, critical steps can address South Africa’s unemployment drop.

How South Africa Can Recover

According to the standard and expanded definitions of unemployment, South Africa has many courses of action that can help those facing unemployment. The most significant hope across South Africa is that the government will intervene and create policies to help all business sectors in South Africa, not only construction and manufacturing.

There are hopes that more trade in 2022 with the U.S. and China will secure enough work for the country to help the manufacturing industry rebound.

Experts predict that the construction sector will bounce back. Projections indicate that the industry will “rebound in 2022 and expand by 9.1% in real terms.” Then, the construction sector will “stabilize at an annual average growth of 3.1% between 2023-2025, although output will not return to pre-pandemic levels during the entire forecast period.” Government investments in large-scale projects will support this recovery.

Presidential Employment Stimulus

The South African government initiated the Presidential Employment Stimulus (PES) in response to COVID-19’s impact on employment in South Africa. Overall, the program’s “aim is to create jobs and strengthen livelihoods, supporting meaningful work while the labor market recovers.”

The government implemented the PES in October 2020 to provide economic support to publicly-funded jobs. The stimulus has two phases. Phase 1 worked with regional and national departments to invest in job creation to provide the unemployed with new skills in jobs that could lead to long-term employment. As of January 2022, the PES created more than 673,000 jobs while supporting more than 140,000 livelihoods. Youths made up 85% of the program beneficiaries and females made up 63% of all program beneficiaries.

Officially, Phase 2 is currently in progress with no specific end date as yet. Overall, the PES is beneficial to South Africa in combating unemployment. PES encapsulates several different unemployment-fighting programs in South Africa, which serve to boost the economy and reduce poverty.

Looking Ahead

Several strategies have the potential to decrease unemployment and, in the long run, reduce poverty. In April 2020, the poverty rate in South Africa stood at 55.5% and the predicted economic growth in 2022 is only 2%, which would not significantly improve South Africa’s poverty levels. However, if the government continues to prioritize programs to provide employment opportunities and fund projects to ignite growth in struggling sectors, 2022 may hold greater improvements.

– Clara Mulvihill
Photo: Flickr

Higher Education in South Africa
Higher education can be the catalyst to reshape a struggling economy, lessen the unemployment rate and ultimately reduce poverty. With South Africa’s staggering poverty rate of 55.5%, higher education in South Africa is rife with inequalities lingering from the apartheid era and the Bantu Education Act. These historical inequities have sparked student-led protests and movements to eliminate financial and cultural constraints in the education system.

Educational Disparities Remain Post-Apartheid

Earning the title of “the most unequal country in the world,” according to the World Bank, South Africa faces many challenges in recovering from its apartheid past. The racial disparities in education are apparent long before a student reaches higher education in South Africa. In 2018, nearly half of Black and “Colored” (biracial) South Africans did not complete secondary school while more than 80% of White South Africans did.

Of the Black students that completed secondary school, only 4.3% enrolled in a higher education institution, and as of 2020, only 4.1% have a degree. The World Bank found that if the household head achieved some higher education in South Africa, the risk of poverty reduced by about 30% compared to household heads with no schooling. With the nation’s racially oppressive history, access to inclusive and affordable education is a key pathway out of poverty for Black South Africans.

Educational Barriers

The Bantu Education Act of 1953 segregated schools by race and the lesser-known Extension of University Act of 1959 prohibited non-Whites from attending formerly “open” universities.

White supremacy ideologies are still indirectly visible in many top universities. While many Black students enroll in these universities, they struggle to find belonging. A documentary by Stellenbosch University students, “Luister,” which means “listen” in Afrikaans, examines 32 students’ experiences with racism and the absence of helpful provisions for a diverse, multilingual body of students.

South Africa has 11 official languages, yet many universities use English as the primary language for instruction. A myriad of students faces frustrations because they are ill-prepared to learn in an environment where their studies are not taught in their primary language. The Minister of Higher Education, Blade Nzimande, developed a language policy to promote multilingualism and provide access to the linguistic needs of each university’s students.

The Digital Divide

The COVID-19 pandemic forced higher education institutions in South Africa to move to remote learning. While more South Africans below the poverty level are attending universities at greater frequency, a large percentage do not have access to the internet or digital devices in their households. This relatively new form of disparity is digital inequality and the pandemic exacerbates this issue for students. As of 2019, a study estimated that only 10.4% of South African homes have access to the internet.

In addition, a 2020 survey report found that only 60% of students own a laptop. More than half of the students reported not having a quiet place to study. Students who received funding through the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), a program for students below the poverty line, felt disproportionate effects. Therefore, 90% of students claimed that the only devices they own are smartphones.

Student Protests

The deadly Soweto Uprising of 1976, which protested Afrikaans as the language of instruction in South African schools, was the first of many student-led movements to raise awareness of the inequalities in education.

Since then, students have continued to demand that higher education in South Africa be affordable, accessible and decolonized. In 2015, the Rhodes Must Fall movement at the University of Cape Town was a campaign for the removal of a Cecil Rhodes statue, a figure symbolic of South Africa’s apartheid past and the colonization that prevails in the university.

The Fees Must Fall Movement

In the same year, the Fees Must Fall movement ignited when the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg declared a tuition increase of more than 10% for the following year, along with other institutions expected to follow suit. The movement was successful because former president Jacob Zuma decided to eliminate tuition increases in 2016, according to Global Citizen.

The movement reignited that same year when the Commission of Inquiry into Higher Education and Training asserted that fees would continue in 2017. President Zuma announced that education would be free through NSFAS to those whose annual household income was less than R350,000 ($22,456).

In 2019, students protested against historical debt, the cost of tuition that NSFAS does not pay for as well as the “missing middle” class that do not qualify for aid but cannot afford tuition.

The Wits Asinamali Movement

The latest movement in 2021, Wits Asinamali, which translates to “we do not have money,” occurred when Minister Blade Nzimande announced that due to a decrease in funding first-year students could not benefit from NSFAS. Many students with historical debt were unable to register as well.

The students managed to raise R4 million to aid those who cannot afford tuition at Witwatersrand University and the university allowed those with historical debt to still register for classes.

Despite the low enrollment of Black students, higher education in South Africa has failed to meet the needs of the expanding prospect of new students. However, students are holding policymakers and universities accountable by demanding that their education be affordable, accessible and inclusive. Countless students have been met with adversity, but are making strides in advocating for a more equitable higher education system.

– Amy Helmendach
Photo: Flickr