Canada’s immigration minister discussed diversity and youth innovation during his visit to Tshimologong.
Canadian Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Ahmed Hussen encouraged South Africa and Canada to embrace immigrants and invest in the youth as they are important contributors to their respective economies.
The Minister made these remarks during a visit to the Tshimologong Digital Innovation Precinct in Braamfontein. The visit was part of Hussen’s two-day official visit to the country and his first since becoming minister earlier this year.
In an interview with Wits Vuvuzela, Hussen said that his visit to the country was two-fold. It was partly to visit the Canadian High Commission in the country, one of their biggest on the continent, to see their processing of visas and what improvements could be made to “facilitate more student, tourist and business between Canada and South Africa.
The minister also had conversations with the South African government about more collaboration in the areas of student exchange, as well as, “…to engage with South Africa because the two countries share common features, being destinations for migrants so comparing notes and sharing best practices”.
The Somali-born minister, an immigrant himself, said that Canada’s continued attractiveness as a preferred destination for immigrants was partly because of the government’s dedication to integration. “We have very robust immigration programmes that invest heavily in integration of all new comers regardless of how they got to Canada.”
He said that economic migration was beneficial to both South Africa and Canada. “We get the benefit of their perspective and their contribution to our society. When they come back, they contribute to their home country and become ambassadors for Canada.”
“I was involved as a community activist and afterwards as a lawyer [refugee law]. It is important to get involved in public service in order to address some of the legislative problems in order to address some of the challenges. It is a continuation of my work,” he said of the decision to pursue his ministerial role and the importance of young people pursuing politics.
Hussen was welcomed by Wits Professor Barry Dwolatzky, the Director of the Johannesburg Centre for Software Engineering, who gave a background to the precinct, its partners and some of the projects currently underway.
He was given a tour of the Tshimologong Precinct and interacted with some of the people involved in start-ups at the technology hub including of the Journalism and Media Lab Accelerator programme teams, African Tech Round-Up, GlobalGirl Media and The Media Factory who presented their ideas and start-up challenges to the minister.
Hussen was given a tour of one the precinct’s biggest partners, software company IBM’s Research Lab, where they demonstrated a few technologies that are aiding in the innovation at the hub including 3D printing and Virtual Reality.