The South African Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Blockchain of Things (BCoT): The Fusion of Blockchain and IoT Technologies

Both Blockchain and Internet of Things (IoT) are the two major disruptive emerging constituents of the contemporary internet-enabled era of technology. As per Gartner Hype Cycle of Emerging Technologies 2018 (Panetta, 2018), both of these technologies are currently in their “peak of inflated expectations” while both are projected to highly likely require another “5 to 10 years” to mature. In fact, comparing with the Gartner’s 2017 (Gartner, 2017) predictions, Blockchain – without changing much – hovered at its current ongoing position on the hype cycle. On the contrary, the locus of IoT has progressed reasonably – prevailing within the same arc (i.e. peak of inflated expectations) of the curve – moving downwards crossing the pinnacle – however, IoT pedalled back on the level of maturity from “2 to 5 years” to the current state of “5 to 10 years”. Such regression of IoT, in terms of reaching maturity level, however, is justified by its widespread adoption in multifaceted applications and the security concerns raised thus far. In fact, both of these technologies are distributed, autonomous and mostly decentralised systems possessing connatural potentials to act as complementary to each other. IoT requires strengthening its security features while Blockchain inherently possesses them due to its extensive use of cryptographic mechanisms and Blockchain – in an inverted manner – needs contributions from the distributed nodes for its P2P (Peer-to-peer) consensus model while IoT rudimentarily embodies them within its architecture. This chapter, therefore, acutely dissects the viability, along with prospective challenges, of incorporating Blockchain with IoT technologies – inducing the notion of Blockchain of Things (BCoT) – as well as the benefits such consolidation can offer.

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Industrial blockchain based framework for product lifecycle management in industry 4.0

Product lifecycle management (PLM) aims to seamlessly manage all products, information, and knowledge generated throughout the product lifecycle for achieving business competitiveness. Conventionally, PLM is implemented based on standalone and centralized systems provided by software vendors. The information of PLM is hardly to be integrated and shared among the cooperating parties. It is difficult to meet the requirements of the openness, interoperability and decentralization of the Industry 4.0 era. To address these challenges, this paper proposed an industrial blockchain-based PLM framework to facilitate the data exchange and service sharing in the product lifecycle. Firstly, we proposed the concept of industrial blockchain as the use of block-chain technology in the industry with the integration of IoT, M2M, and efficient consensus algorithms. It provided an open but secured information storage and exchange platform for the multiple stakeholders to achieve the openness, interoperability and decentralization in era of industry 4.0. Secondly, we proposed and developed customized blockchain information service to fulfil the connection between a single  node with the blockchain network. As a middleware, it can not only process the multi-source and heterogeneous data from varied stages in the product lifecycle, but also broadcast the processed data to the blockchain network. Moreover, smart contract is used to automate the alert services in the product lifecycles. Finally, we illustrated the blockchain-based application between the cooperating partners in four emerging product lifecycle stages, including co-design and co-creation, quick and accurate tracking and tracing, proactive maintenance, and regulated recycling. A simulation experiment demonstrated the effectiveness and efficiency of the proposed framework. The results showed that the proposed framework is scalable and efficient, and hence it is feasible to be adopted in industry. With the successful development of the proposed platform, it is promising to provide an effective PLM for improving interoperability and cooperation between stakeholders in the entire product lifecycle.

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World Economic Forum 2019: Globalization 4.0 – a better version

Between 22 and 25 January 2019, the World Economic Forum (WEF), the most important annual meeting of political, economic, scientific leaders and personalities, took place in Davos, Switzerland. The central theme of this edition was Globalization 4.0 (Shaping a Global Architecture in the Age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution); a concept used here2 to explain the new era of intelligent and ubiquitous technologies that will connect everyone and everything in ways that have not been achieved so far by the previous “engines” of globalization – steam, electricity or computing. Among the participants there was a broad consensus that international relations and the world economy are at a turning point, so that the 2019 meeting was intended to be the appropriate framework for promoting a comprehensive approach to the more complex problems of the contemporary world.

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Capturing the fourth industrial revolution a regional and national agenda

The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) — characterized by the fusion of the digital, biological, and physical worlds, as well as the growing utilization of new technologies such as artificial intelligence, cloud computing, robotics, 3D printing, the Internet of Things, and advanced wireless technologies, among others—has ushered in a new era of economic disruption with uncertain socio-economic consequences for Africa. However, Africa has been left behind during the past industrial revolutions. Will this time be different? So far, it does not appear that Africa has yet claimed the 21st century, as it still lags behind in several indicators essential for a successful digital revolution. Improvements in Africa’s ICT sector have been largely driven by expanding mobile digital financial services: The region had nearly half of global mobile money accounts in 2018 and will see the fastest growth in mobile money through 2025. But artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain are also attracting interest in Africa, as they have the potential to successfully address social and economic challenges there. And there are so many other areas in which 4IR technology can be transformational.

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Public sector monitoring and evaluation in the Fourth Industrial Revolution: Implications for Africa

The current era of transformative scientific and technological advances is reshaping traditional government business as it is blurring geographical boundaries and posing a challenge to existing regulatory frameworks. Aim: This article explores the implications of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) on current public sector monitoring and evaluation (ME) in Africa. Setting: The 4IR (also called Industry 4.0) is thought to bring about enormous benefits associated with increased efficiency and effectiveness in service delivery. However, even with the highly anticipated opportunities related to automated and digital transformations in the 4IR, governments in African countries need to understand the challenges ahead and will need to measure and mitigate the impact of the unpredictable and rapidly changing products and services created for the public. Methods: Using the documentary review method to collect data, this research answers the following guiding questions: (1) How has the 4IR been harnessed in Africa to improve public sector service delivery? (2) How can the 4IR be harnessed to improve ME in the public sector in Africa? and (3) What are the implications of the 4IR technologies on public sector ME in Africa? Results: Findings reveal that various 4IR disruptive technologies have already been fully adopted in public service delivery in Africa. The 4IR disruptive technologies have the capacity to capture or collect and analyse multi-dimensional information or data from multiple contextual variables, with minimal costs and time in both qualitative and quantitative formats. However, findings disclose that the use of big data in evaluation requires extra new skills training and critical discussions among ME specialists, technologists, economists, engineers and tech companies as a whole so as to significantly enhance the quality, validity and reliability of the data captured by the technologies. Conclusion: Deep integration, collaboration and embracing change are needed to efficiently manage and control the multi-stakeholder nature of the 4IR innovative technologies. This article asserts that policies on the 4IR technologies need to be adaptive, inclusive, sustainable and human centred in order to efficiently regulate or guide these innovative technologies without curtailing the future opportunities.

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Is the fourth industrial revolution relevant to sub-Sahara Africa?

While the 4IR has the potential to impact on all industries and all nations, regardless of their location or state of development, many of the discussions of the 4IR and its impact are focused on advanced economies. What are the prospects and constraints of the 4IR to emerging economies in sub-Sahara Africa? To what extent is the 4IR relevant to sub-Sahara Africa where there is a large informal economy, limited public infrastructure, where technical skills levels are low, and advanced technology can be found in only a few sectors that are dominated by foreign multinational companies and staffed by expatriate workers? What is the relevance of policy development towards the 4IR in the region given its young population profile, and emerging skill shortages in key sectors? The paper draws on secondary literature to highlight the challenges and to identify the policy developments that have been developed in the region.

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An Application of Data Mining in the Fourth Industrial Revolution – A Case of South Africa

This research paper explores the in-depth application of Data Mining in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) in South Africa. The Industrial Revolution concept has fundamentally changed our society and economy. In South Africa, data mining phenomena has not been fully realized in the age of the 4IR. In the age of information and 4IR data is viewed as a strategic assert that companies should invest in. Results in this study shows that the concept of data mining in South African business landscape is not fully executed and applied to business development and management as a practice. Statistical observations also indicate that baselines, historical data and intelligence if used properly can benefit businesses to grow and develop. This study attempted to discover hidden valuable knowledge by analyzing data using statistical data mining techniques during which a new data mining technique to analyze data, interpret it and present it was discovered. This research tested the new approach referred to as Alex Malapane Data Mining Technique (AMDMT) using test questions which were explored as per the objective of this study.

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Open governance for improved service delivery innovation in South Africa

The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) is the current and developing environment in which changing technologies and trends such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI) are changing the way governments function. Governments are increasingly facing new risks and opportunities due to the advancement of the 4IR. Governments need to find ways to adapt to the 4IR. Innovation is a prerequisite for adapting to the 4IR. The aim of this article is to determine the level of public service delivery innovation (SDI) in South Africa in the context of the 4IR. The analysis in this article is based on secondary data and documentary analysis, including unsolicited government documents, reports and legislation, and authoritative scholarly literature. A number of innovation measures for improved service delivery have been adopted in South Africa. These efforts are not, however, embedded within the wider public service, and efforts to improve SDI should be considered. In a global environment of resource constraints and constant change, open governance through multi-stakeholder collaboration may present strategic opportunities to facilitate innovation. The aim of these initiatives is to enhance transparency and accountability, and to facilitate public service delivery and citizen participation.

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Using ICT indicators to measure readiness of countries to implement Industry 4.0 and the SDGs

At the epicentre of Industry 4.0 is Information Communication and Technology (ICT) and across the 17 Sustainable Development (SDGs) are indicators focusing on ICT. In addition, SDG 9 focuses on promoting sustainable industrialisation and fostering innovation. This paper samples 212 countries and regions, drawing up a 2015 baseline composite index using three out of six ICT-related SDGs indicators with data. The data come from the World Development Indicators database and the min–max method of computing the composite index was applied. The fndings show that the top 10 countries scored between 71.27 and 78.26 points out of the weighted total of 100, while the bottom 10 countries (all African) registered between 0.02 and 5.80 points. As for the regions, the European Union came top at 60.20 points and sub-Saharan Africa was last at 13.04 points. The African country ranked frst (Seychelles) scored 43.83 points and ranked 80th overall. Broadly, there is signifcant work required to prepare all countries for Industry 4.0 through ICT and to work towards attaining ICT-related SDGs targets by 2030. We recommend that right platforms be set up to promote ICT scale-up and lessen the convergence period between frontrunner countries and those lagging behind.

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Assessing the readiness of South Africa for Industry 4.0 – analysis of government policy, skills and education.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0) is imminent in the South African economy. Industry 4.0 is disruptive and challenges the status quo. This paper investigates the preparedness of South Africa for Industry 4.0 implementation. Government policies and initiatives on innovation and manufacturing are reviewed and presented to determine their position relative to Industry 4.0. Key statistics on education, skills and employment are presented and analysed to assess how well prepared the education system is to supply skills required in Industry 4.0. Based on the analysis and reviews of policy and key data recommendations are presented which highlight important actions to ensure optimal Industry 4.0 implementation.

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Agile Policy Development

We’re co-developing and piloting governance and policy frameworks to keep up with the pace of technology evolution.

National and Global Cooperation for Impact

The Centre draws on private sector, government, academia and civil society to co-design technology governance frameworks.


Read the latest edition of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research’s (CSIR) magazine, ScienceScope.

This edition highlights some key issues of significance as the country starts to implement its fourth industrial revolution strategy. It also features CSIR people, research and development, as well as infrastructure.

Addressing challenges in South Africa and the Region

We address technology areas relevant to South Africa and our neighbors, that address our societal and economic needs.