Johannesburg - The Brics summit in Durban will help promote youth development in South Africa, President Jacob Zuma said on Tuesday.
"We are certain that Brics will contribute immensely to satisfying the employment and development needs of our young population," Zuma said in a speech prepared for delivery at the Commonwealth conference in Pretoria.
"Most of you are aware that in less than two weeks, the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India and China (Bric) are converging on our shores."
He said he was excited to be part of this grouping.
"We expect... that many opportunities will be taken up by the business community of our country in particular, to promote investments into our beautiful country. Our Bric partners do appreciate our youth employment and empowerment drive."
Zuma said the 2008 financial crisis had caused rising unemployment, more poverty and income inequality, especially among the youth, around the world.
"Research undertaken... highlights the fact that youth have been disproportionately affected by low growth," said Zuma.
He said in South Africa more than 40% of those economically active and under the age of 30 were unemployed.
"While this is worrying, there is also a positive angle. The OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) report highlights that countries which have higher numbers of youth in their population have better growth prospects than those with ageing populations."
Zuma said this made him optimistic about the country's growth prospects. South Africa's Census 2011 report revealed that South Africa was a nation of young people, with over a third of the population under the age of 15.
"This makes us a nation with a future, and we must utilise all available resources to build that future. That future is our young people.
"Therefore our focus on improving the quality of education is well-placed, as we are investing in our children and the youth to ensure sustainable development."
He said the Commonwealth youth conference and the Brics summit should both assist to further empower youth in the developing world.
"We are thus truly excited to be part of this grouping. Our membership of Brics enhances our participation in other important groupings such as the Commonwealth."
South Africa contributed more than R2m a year to the Commonwealth of Learning, the organisation's education drive.
The country is also involved in the Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan, an international programme under which member states offer scholarships and fellowships to citizens of other Commonwealth countries.
"We therefore support the ongoing training of young people, including the mainstreaming of youth work as a discipline or a career."
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