As the fourth industrial revolution nears(4IR), South Africa has continued to position itself not as an adopter but a leader of the new technological revolution.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has continually insisted on the importance of the 4IR in every policy initiative and official event held in SA. He is of the opinion that taking the global lead on 4IR will help drive growth which will unlock a better future for the country and the continent as a whole.
In the spirit of embracing the 4IR, Ramaphosa earlier appointed a 30-member presidential commission to explore opportunities presented by the digital industrial revolution and thereafter advise the government on 4IR strategy and policies.
The country, known as the most industrialised economy has received new investment aimed at helping them get ready for the 4IR.
Cisco, a US IT giant will invest ZAR 140 Mn over the next three years to support digitisation in South Africa as the country prepares for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
On the sidelines of the ongoing World Economic Forum Africa held in Cape Town, Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams the Communications, Telecommunications and Postal Services Minister; and Clayton Naidoo, general manager for sub-Saharan Africa at Cisco signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which outlined various key sectors for cooperation.
The company said the MOU is part of Cisco’s Country Digital Acceleration (CDA) programme and it also contributes to SA’s National Development Plan 2030.
The investment will help create employment since Cisco will establish seven more incubation centres. Through the investment, skills and talent will also be developed and national cybersecurity will be boosted.
While addressing attendees at the summit, Ndabeni-Abrahams, reiterated the importance of developing partnerships for investment in the technology space.
“We need a capable 4IR army. There can’t be a revolution without an army, that is why I am the commander,” she said.
“If we are to lead a successful 4IR there are three things we must focus on; coordinate, collaborate and execute. If we work in silos we won’t be successful, we need to complement each other,” she said before announcing the collaboration with Cisco.
As the revolution rapidly becomes a lived reality, grave concerns have been raised over the impact the technological revolution more so automation and AI could have on the labour market. Many times experts have warned that the move may lead to massive job layoffs better known as technological unemployment.
However, think tanks say that the revolution will be beneficial if it is linked to ‘inward industrialization’ strategies.
The challenge ahead for the South African government is to ensure they leverage on 4IR in a manner that maximises the benefits whilst mitigating the risks to ensure they become beneficiaries of the technology as opposed to victims.
Featured Image Courtesy: Scottish Business Insider