The South African government is delighted to spearhead an affiliate centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (C4IR), under the World Economic Forum (WEF) banner. Members of the media and CSIR partners gathered in Pretoria on Tuesday for the C4IR Business Breakfast Consultation ahead of the centre launch, set to take place on the sidelines of WEF Africa, 4 – 6 September 2019.
The event created an opportunity for all stakeholders to probe conversation on SA’s state of readiness for the 4IR and also take stock of implementations that need to be put in place. Affiliate centres have already been established in China, Japan and India, with South Africa, Saudi Arabia and Israel next in line.
In her address, Minister of Science and Technology, Ms Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane elaborated on how widespread the impact of the 4IR will be: “The technologies associated with the phenomenon of the Fourth Industrial Revolution have already begun reshaping the way we produce goods and services; how we communicate and interact; how we administer health; how we educate the young; and how we do many other things that determine how we live. It is no longer possible to discuss economic development without factoring in the impact of the Fourth Industrial Revolution on the economy as whole. Any effort we make as a country to grow our economy will now largely be shaped by how quickly we are able to embrace and master the technologies associated with the Fourth Industrial Revolution.”
Minister Kubayi-Ngubane further said that as a country, we were spectators of the second and third Industrial Revolutions, but this time around government would like to position South Africa as a forerunner.
Head of the WEF 4th Industrial Revolution Network, Dr Murat Sönmez presented a talk on WEF C4IR, highlighting aspects of machine learning and artificial intelligence, the internet of things, robotics, digital trading, data policies and smart cities. “Who gets to benefit from the #4IR? Through affiliate centres like these, we need to come up with policies and protocols that will ensure that the 4IR doesn’t only benefit a select few”, he said.
Dr Sönmez also announced that South Africa will have a seat on the WEF C4IR global advisory board.
The realisation of the Fourth Industrial Revolution is highly dependent on a reinforced collaboration as the world gears up for global transformation.