In celebration of Mandela Day, Mireille Wenger, provincial MEC of Finance and Economic Opportunities, participated in the launch of the Makerspace Lab at the I-CAN Centre in Elsie’s River. This community-based centre, developed in collaboration with the City of Cape Town, has been at the forefront of empowering young people through digital skills programs since its establishment in 2015. The Makerspace Lab aims to foster innovation and entrepreneurship among the youth, providing them with opportunities to develop prototypes and gain exposure to generate income.
MEC Wenger expressed her enthusiasm, stating, “As we celebrate President Mandela’s legacy today and specifically, his commitment to empowering our youth who are our future, I am thrilled to be part of the launch of the Makerspace Lab. This space has been created to encourage young entrepreneurs to use their skills and talents to create impactful solutions for their communities.”
During her visit to the I-CAN Centre, MEC Wenger had the pleasure of meeting numerous talented young individuals from Phillipi, Khayelitsha, and Elsie’s River, who are currently enrolled in the digital skills programs. These young innovators shared how the center’s programs have provided them with invaluable networking opportunities and instilled in them the confidence to adapt to any situation through design thinking.
The establishment of the I-CAN Centre was made possible by the funding provided by the Department of Economic Development and Tourism in 2014, in partnership with the City of Cape Town, which owns the premises and property. Since its official opening to the public in September 2015, the I-CAN Centre, managed by Genesis CITI, has been dedicated to empowering individuals with digital skills and fostering entrepreneurship.
With a vision to drive transformational change through technology accessibility, the I-CAN Centre acts as a hub that brings together various stakeholders, including government, private companies, potential entrepreneurs, and non-profit organizations.
The center offers a wide range of digital skills training, both entry-level and vendor-certified vocational courses. In recognition of its commitment to excellence, the I-CAN Centre has received accreditation from the Media, Information and Communication Technologies Sector Education and Training Authority (MICT SETA) for two ICT qualifications.
As of September 2022, the I-CAN Centre had witnessed an impressive total of 94,426 citizen visits and delivered 13,627 training opportunities. These opportunities include a combination of free, donor-funded, and paid courses, making learning accessible to individuals from diverse backgrounds.
MEC Wenger commended the center’s efforts in providing a safe and technology-enabled environment for citizens to access digital resources. This plays a crucial role in supporting primary and high school students in completing their assignments and enables unemployed individuals to search for jobs and develop their skills using the free internet services provided by the I-CAN Centre.
“Our newly launched economic strategy, Growth for Jobs, acknowledges that it is the private sector, citizens, entrepreneurs, and SMMEs that create jobs. It is the government’s responsibility to lay the foundations for economic growth and enable its citizens to succeed. Programs like the I-CAN Centre are instrumental in equipping our residents with the necessary skills and tools to seize opportunities and contribute to the growth of our economy,” stated MEC Wenger.
The I-CAN Centre’s commitment to bridging the digital divide and empowering young minds aligns perfectly with President Mandela’s vision of a better future for South Africa. By nurturing digital skills and entrepreneurship, the center is sowing the seeds of innovation and progress in the hearts and minds of the nation’s youth.
As the I-CAN Centre continues to flourish and expand its reach, it stands as a shining example of how collaboration between public and private sectors can create meaningful change in society. By investing in the development of its residents, the City of Cape Town is laying the groundwork for a prosperous future, where technology and innovation drive economic growth and social upliftment.
On this Mandela Day, let us all be inspired by the efforts of the I-CAN Centre and support initiatives that bridge the digital divide, empower the youth, and create opportunities for a brighter and more inclusive future for all.