Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies Ms Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams and Deputy Chair of the Commission Professor Tshilidzi Marwala presented the report to the President on Thursday, 06 August 2020.
The Commission, consisting of leaders from academia, business and civil society, began its work in May 2019, combining research and stakeholder engagements to generate a comprehensive view of South Africa’s current conditions as well as the prospects in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
The Commission has since its establishment deliberated on the opportunities that enable South Africa to craft a shared 4IR future, as well as the constraints that are currently in place. These deliberations have included international benchmarking which has delivered insights into the possibilities for the competitive positioning of South Africa in the 4IR landscape globally.
The Commission has also examined the role of the state, as well as key institutional actors, in leading and resourcing the work that must be undertaken to ensure success. The Commission has made recommendations spanning such strategic areas as the country’s investment in human capital; artificial intelligence; advanced manufacturing and new materials; the provision of data to enable innovation; future industries and 4IR infrastructure.
President Ramaphosa welcomed the report, which the Commission will shortly present to Cabinet before the report is published. Following its publication, the report will form the basis of a national discussion on how all sectors of society can contribute to a technologically enabled future that brings about greater economic and social inclusion, and enhances the competitiveness of the South African economy.
In this effort, South Africa will be positioned as both an adopter and innovator of solutions that will have impact and relevance nationally and globally.
President Ramaphosa urged the Commission to place 4IR at the centre of economic recovery, to enable the country to emerge from the damaging impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. “South Africa must be a more technologically driven country that finds solutions that move us forward, with 4IR as a pivot for economic recovery.”
The President said digital transformation had to be harnessed “to change the way we live, learn, work and govern”.