In April 2019, president Cyril Ramaphosa set up the Presidential Commission on the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). The 30-member presidential commission was put together to assist government in taking advantage of the opportunities presented by the digital industrial revolution; identifying relevant policies, strategies and action plans to position South Africa as a competitive global player.
Just two weeks ago, Ramaphosa was handed the commission’s report on 4IR-related policies, strategies and plans for nationwide technological change. The report is details the opportunities that exist to craft a shared 4IR future, in addition to outlining the constraints that may be hindering South Africa’s 4IR innovation efforts. The report also covers different interventions by social partners, like big business, across key sectors of the economy.
The COVID effect
It may be tough to believe but many of the technologies that underlie the 4IR – think cloud computing, artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT) and digital collaboration – have actually been given a boost by the coronavirus. We unpacked this in our recent eBook, titled Building a Fourth Industrial Revolution ready enterprise.
According to professor Tshilidzi Marwala, the commission’s deputy, the 4IR is here. We are already seeing this given how swiftly our country has moved to online learning and how many people are working remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“But now the question that we are trying to establish as the commission is to make sure that as South Africans we don’t just become users of these technologies but that we also become builders of these technologies so that we can be able to grow our economy,” Marwala said.
“We have to ensure that our laws are adaptive to the 4IR, to ensure that companies such as Uber, Airbnb and other such platform companies can be brought into our tax regime, because if they operate in the cloud and don’t have an office in the country, then we lose revenue simply because our laws are not in line with the 4IR,” he went on to say.
Want to find out more about technological change and business strategy? Download our 4IR eBook below.