The South African Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Public Outlook on Creative Methodologies for the 4th Industrial Revolution in South Africa

Many prior studies show that, with technology embedded in all we do, and more than half of the world’s population now connected to the internet, forecasts of the global economy being 60% digitised by 2022, means the era of the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR) is upon us. The readiness of countries, including South Africa (SA), and whether and how they have prepared, planned and organised for this revolution, offers little empirical research. To date, no clarity exists with regards to social re-skilling, infrastructural adjustments, technology up scaling, and human resource readiness, as well as economic re-capitalisation. This study aims at providing input to assist with closing this research gap, seeking understanding and knowledge around creative methodologies for 4IR in SA, and the extent of perceived readiness and various factors confronting the country’s readiness in the coming industrial revolution. The study population consisted of 287 participants from seven selected business areas in the province of KwaZulu- Natal (KZN, SA. The target population was determined by quota sampling method, while the measuring instrument was a 3-point Likert-scaled questionnaire, designed and personally administered to respondents, allowing 10 days for completion. The Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS version 24.0) was used for data analysis and research findings presented in tables. The study highlighted that many respondents do not believe SA is ready for 4IR. The findings of this research should be used with care, as the sample is very small; the study recommends further empirical studies with larger numbers, which will include other provinces.

For the full paper please visit https://www.abacademies.org/articles/public-outlook-on-creative-methodologies-for-the-4th-industrial-revolution-in-south-africa-8514.html

Industry 4.0 readiness assessment for South African industries

Technological advancements related to the fourth industrial revolution are causing disruptive changes that are widely felt at national, industry, and company level. Industry 4.0, an initiative driving the fourth industrial revolution, is happening at an exponential speed, and embracing and adopting it is unavoidable for survival and competiveness. Although noticeable progress has been made in the use of Industry 4.0 technologies, systems, and processes in developed countries, there is uncertainty about the preparedness of businesses and industries in developing countries, including South Africa, to adopt Industry 4.0. The purpose of this research paper is to explore the readiness of South African industry in this regard. A questionnaire instrument with quantitative criteria compiled by the Impulse Foundation of Verband Deutscher Maschinen- und Anlagenbau was used in this study. The exploratory study revealed that South African industry is faced with significant challenges in Industry 4.0 strategy formulation and equipment infrastructure to support Industry 4.0 requirements. The assessment pointed out that Industry 4.0 skills exist in pockets in South Africa, and so a further study to reveal more detail on Industry 4.0 skills requirements is essential.

For the full paper please visit http://www.scielo.org.za/pdf/sajie/v30n3/13.pdf

The Fourth Industrial Revolution–The Case of South Africa

On becoming President of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa put the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) into his national economic strategy, generating criticism for its neoliberal rhetoric echoing the World Economic Forum (WEF) and concern it would not create jobs. 4IR is an umbrella term for 3D-printing, artificial intelligence (AI), big data, industrial Internet of things (IIoT) and robotics. For corporations it means rethinking strategies and auto cannibalisation of business models. For policy-makers in manufacturing nations it is supposed to raise national competitiveness and bring manufacturing home, potentially blocking developing nations from creating jobs through attracting labour-intensive manufacturing. Its effects on work and employment are forecast to be complex, potentially heightening inequality by reducing demand for low levels of skills. South Africa has a significant skills shortage, due to failings in its education system, limiting the supply of managers, researchers and workers needed for 4IR. There are also problems of poor quality infrastructure, reflecting weak governance and state capture. It has a poor record in policy formulation and implementation, especially across departments, with notable delays in cybersecurity and data protection. There is only a small domestic market and, despite aspirations, it is not an easy gateway to the rest of Africa, which has strong demographic growth but limited spending power and poor physical distribution systems. Moreover, South African firms have to compete with a strong Chinese presence.

For the full paper please visit https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/02589346.2019.1696003

Governing the Coin: World Economic Forum Announces Global Consortium for Digital Currency Governance

  • Today, the World Economic Forum announces the first global consortium focused on designing a framework for the governance of digital currencies, including stablecoins
  • The Global Consortium for Digital Currency Governance will aim to increase access to the financial system through innovative policy solutions that are inclusive and inter-operable
  • Opportunities for financial inclusion will be only unlocked if the space is regulated properly and includes public-private cooperation across developed and high-growth markets.
  • For more information, please visit www.weforum.org. Share on social media using the hashtag #wef20

Davos, Switzerland 24 January 2020 – Following extensive consultation with the global community, the World Economic Forum announced today the Global Consortium for Digital Currency Governance. Digital currencies are often cited as a tool for financial inclusion, but this opportunity can be realized only when paired with good governance.

This is the first initiative to bring together leading companies, financial institutions, government representatives, technical experts, academics, international organizations, NGOs and members of the Forum’s communities on a global level. To tackle the challenge ahead, an international, multistakeholder approach with the public and private sectors working alongside civil society is needed.

This consortium will focus on solutions for a fragmented regulatory system. Efficiency, speed, inter-operability, inclusivity and transparency will be at the heart of this initiative. It will call for innovative regulatory approaches to achieve these goals and build trust. A set of guiding principles will be co-designed to support public and private actors exploring the opportunities that digital currencies present.

“Digital currency, a cross-cutting topic that requires input across sectors, functions, and geographies, is a key area of interest for the Forum,” said Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum. “Building on our long history of public-private cooperation, we hope that hosting this consortium will catalyse the conversations necessary to inform a robust framework of governance for global digital currencies.”

“Any evaluation of digital currencies should consider both policy and business objectives, as well as the unique circumstances that face different economies around the world, in order to fully evaluate their risks and benefits,” said Lesetja KganyagoGovernor of the South African Reserve Bank. “Bringing together diverse perspectives through this consortium will allow for this holistic review. In order to achieve this, we need the public and private sector to collaborate.”

“While digital currencies offer wide possibilities, these have to be assessed against the fundamental objectives of economic advancement and shared prosperity,” said Patrick Ngugi Njoroge, Governor of the Central Bank of Kenya. “Global governance of the diverse initiatives provides greater assurance of this outcome.”

“Governance is the core pillar of any form of digital currency,” said Mark Carney,Governor of the Bank of England. “It is critical that any framework on digital currencies ensures security, efficiency and legitimacy of payments while ensuring fair and open competition. We welcome the World Economic Forum’s platform to help develop a robust governance framework for inclusion through digital currencies.”

“We are exploring the potential that properly-regulated digital currencies hold for cheaper and faster cross-border payments, financial inclusion, and rooting out illicit finance,” said Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Senior Minister, Singapore and Chairman, Monetary Authority of Singapore. “This dialogue between public and private sector players is now essential, so we find the right roles for each in realizing this potential.”

“We are watching closely as digital currencies increasingly become an area of focus around the world,” said Eric Parrado, Chief Economist, Inter-American Development Bank. “They may unlock new opportunities for efficiency and inclusion, but this can only happen with the appropriate infrastructure and guardrails.”

“The release of digital currencies will have far-reaching implications, from domestic financial stability to international trade,” said Rania A. Al-Mashat, Minister of International Cooperation, Egypt. “As such, it is imperative that efforts to regulate digital currencies are well-informed, collaborative, and global in nature.”

“Building on our collaboration around the World Economic Forum’s Central Bank Digital Currency Toolkit, we are eager to continue exploring the pillars of well-informed approaches to digital currency through this consortium,” said Rasheed Al Maraj, Governor of the Central Bank of Bahrain.

“Having witnessed firsthand technology leapfrog East and West African financial markets forward over the last decade, we are excited that this initiative will bring leaders from around the world to share best practices and will work on truly global policy recommendations,” said Elizabeth Rossiello, Chief Executive Officer of AZA Finance.

“We welcome the dialogue the World Economic Forum is facilitating about digital currencies,” said David Marcus, Head of Calibra, Facebook, Libra Board Member. “We agree that good regulation is important for the success and safe adoption of digital currency platforms and are looking forward to continue to engage in this constructive conversation.”

“Digital currencies have the potential to improve access to financial markets, but proper oversight and governance are required,” said Rob Heyvaert, Founder and Managing Partner of Motive Partners. “The World Economic Forum is uniquely placed to bring together the private and public sectors to discuss these issues and tackle the challenges ahead.”

“Digital currencies are a tremendous opportunity to make the financial system more accessible and fair,” said Neha Narula, Director, Digital Currency Initiative,Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). “Creating an inclusive, integrated global digital currency system requires dialogue across stakeholders ranging from finance ministers to open source developers, and the World Economic Forum is in an ideal position to facilitate this important conversation.”

“Trust is needed in this space now more than ever,” said Joseph Thompson, Chief Executive Officer of AID:Tech. “Creating new economic opportunities and a paradigm shift in how technology is used can benefit all societies. What we need now is multistakeholder cooperation that is anchored in principles of social justice.”

“It’s rare that such an important global organization takes into consideration the context of developing countries in the application of Fourth Industrial Revolution technology to achieve the SDGs,” said Maria Antonia Arroyo, Principal of the Ignite Impact Fund. “Stablecoin is an important development that, if properly implemented and responsible to the concerns of civil society, will be effective at universal financial inclusion.”

“New technologies, like blockchain, have helped catalyze a revolution in the mechanics of money,” said Joseph Lubin, Founder of ConsenSys. “We applaud the efforts by the WEF in actively researching digital currencies, including those that are blockchain-based, as a means to foster innovation but also ensure that central banks can maintain their role as stewards of the economy. The future of money is digital and central banks and the public sector have a crucial part to play in ensuring that this future is sustainable, inclusive and positive for society.”

This initiative builds on work done by the Forum over the past year, convening a global community of central banks to co-design a policy framework for the adoption of digital currencies. The Forum’s Global Technology Governance Summit will take place in San Francisco from 21-22 April. Governance of digital currency will be a core pillar.

About the Annual Meeting 2020

The World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2020 will take place from 21 to 24 January 2020 in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland. The meeting brings together more than 3,000 global leaders from politics, government, civil society, academia, the arts and culture as well as the media. Convening under the theme, Stakeholders for a Cohesive and Sustainable World, participants will focus on defining new models for building sustainable and inclusive societies in a plurilateral world. For further information, please click here.


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Exhibition on 4th Industrial Revolution opened in Parliament

The Department of Science and Technology (DST) has partnered with Parliament to produce an exhibition demonstrating South Africa’s readiness to embrace the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR).

The 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR) refers to the current and developing environment in which disruptive technologies and trends such as the Internet of Things and virtual reality are changing the way people live and work.

President Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation Address on 7 February highlighted the need for South Africa to prepare for the 4th Industrial Revolution, referring to the Presidential Commission he has appointed for this purpose.

The Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Lechesa Tsenoli, and the Minister of Science and Technology, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, opened the exhibition in Cape Town this morning.

DST entities, including the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), are showcasing research and development in robotics, additive manufacturing, big data, artificial intelligence, e-agriculture and other areas relevant to the new digital age.

South Africa’s response to the 4IR is informed by the country’s socio-economic imperatives, and Parliament has noted that the national system of innovation has been active in developing a range of technologies designed to address real-life South African problems.

Touring the exhibition in the National Council of Provinces Queens Hall, the Deputy Speaker and Minister Kubayi-Ngubane said the DST welcomed the opportunity to demonstrate how science, technology and innovation could contribute to solving the problems the country was facing. For example, new sanitation technologies could enable South Africa to save water and improve the health of communities in remote areas.

“We want to make sure that we are in the centre of development. We want to make sure that South Africa’s economy is driven by innovation, and come up with solutions to help us deal with problems like climate change,” said the Minister, newly appointed to the World Economic Forum’s multi-stakeholder global artificial intelligence council.

Kubayi-Ngubane said that South Africa would use the opportunities of the 4th Industrial Revolution to deal with poverty, unemployment and inequality. New skills will need to be developed for the new industries and markets that will emerge.

Tsenoli said that Parliament had started a programme last year to raise awareness about the importance of the new digital revolution. The exhibition was a good platform to make members of Parliament and the public think about the revolution. Tsenoli emphasised government’s responsibility in this regard, and said that Parliament would continue to work with entities that promoted research and development.

Dr Daniel Visser, research and development manager at the CSIR, said it was important that the country knew how the national system of innovation contributed to socio-economic well-being through the tools and technologies it made available.

“This event with Parliament is an important showcase for agencies and entities in the innovation system to show decision-makers what is available. We need more of these interactions to show the private and public sector what the South African innovation system can do,” he said.

The Chief Technology Officer at Right ePharmacy, André van Biljon, called on government to support local innovations that were tailored for the South African market rather than importing products from abroad.

Right ePharmacy has partnered with the CSIR to develop business opportunities and innovations so that medicines can be dispensed digitally in more cost-effective, convenient and accurate way.

The company’s pharmacy dispensing units work like ATMs, using robotic technology to label and dispense chronic medication. This cuts the waiting periods at clinics and hospitals, relieving pressure on the public health care system.

Over the next four days, the public are invited to visit the exhibition to learn about the 4IR. Schools are encouraged to bring leaners, as they are the knowledge workers of the future and will drive South Africa participation in the 4IR.

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.

Brochure: About the WEF Affiliate Centre for 4IR South Africa (C4IR SA). 

The World Economic Forum launched the Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution Network (C4IR Network) in March 2017.

Its mission is to ensure that the Fourth Industrial Revolution benefits not just the few but all of society.

Download the C4IR SA brochure here

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.