Jordaan, Konopi to unveil a tech solution to not leave people behind in health, education

Professor of Practice at the University of Johannesburg, Eldrid Jordaan (centre). File photo

Professor of Practice at the University of Johannesburg, Eldrid Jordaan (centre). File photo

Published May 13, 2024


Be ready. The hard slog to solving our transformation problems, in particular health and education, can be won when we achieve leaving no one behind.

Tomorrow, watch this space for a critical announcement that should catch your attention on a matter of health.

When the question staring South Africa in the face is one of a demographic disaster, instead of a demographic dividend, then the nation must hit the pause button and seek the wisdom of Greek mathematician Archimedes.

How do you leverage a demographic dividend? Only through a system of levers can you leverage exponential returns.

I have been analysing data the mighty organisation Statistics SA produces, such as Census 2011, the Community Survey of 2016 and Census 2022.

These data results show there is no demographic dividend for blacks and coloureds, but bounty for Indians and whites.

(I recently presented a lecture, The Changing Face of South Africa, talking to this subject. )

Archimedes, the father of systems of levers and mechanical advantage, said: “Give me a place on which to stand and I will move the Earth.”

Recently, I have been conversing with daring under-50 and under 40-year-old people who can conceptualise what South Africa should and can do if we work together to reconstruct and rebuild this lovely country. The late Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu saw South Africa as a rainbow nation. These aspirational definitions are within reach.

Furthermore, the demographic dividend of the youthfulness and thought leadership embedded in a number, albeit small, of our youthful population, demand a place on which to stand so that they can move South Africa forward.

Eldrid Jordaan and his partner, Goitse Konopi, not only have raised their hands to this challenge, but have folded their sleeves up, to find a solution to this problem in a unique way.

A bit more about Jordaan.

Professor of Practice at the University of Johannesburg, Jordaan, an accomplished businessperson and a global figure of note anchored in the triumphant spirit of humanity, is no stranger to the world of politics.

Born to a political activist and a trade unionist father, the late Paul Jordaan, Eldrid is thus not new to struggle. But his rise to being a daring businessman was no walk in the park. It was chiselled and defined in the thick of the college of political education and based on lived experiences in the Cape Flats. His transformative life is informed by the mission challenge that aims at leaving no one behind.

His partner, Goitse Konopi, with a fully bearded face and Rastafari-like hair, keeps an inquisitive but very naughty face.

The two form a dynamic business duo.

Two years ago, I was at UJ at a workshop that was organised by the UJ Business School on technologies that can be deployed to solve mission challenges. Professor Jordaan was one of the presenters.

Konopi was also at the event, but it took me a while to figure out who he was. The face was familiar, but the beard was not. Realising that I was struggling with recalling his name, he reminded me of the regular encounters we enjoyed when Konopi and Jordaan were in the Presidency. The then minister Trevor Manuel would invite them to our management meetings.

In talking to them both, Konopi said there was something that they were working on and they needed me to be part of it, They asked me to share certain statistics with them. I did so and shortly thereafter Jordaan called after the end of the meeting.

The duo had a path in business, which included the establishment of GovChat, the citizen engagement platform. They subsequently sold it.

Jordaan and Konopi are now onto yet another “leave no one behind expedition.”

The story will break on Tuesday in “Business Report”. Watch this space.

Dr Pali Lehohla is a Professor of Practice at the University of Johannesburg, a Research Associate at Oxford University, a board member of Institute for Economic Justice at Wits and a distinguished Alumni of the University of Ghana. He is the former Statistician-General of South Africa