South Africa Government

07/05/2019 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 07/05/2019 02:41

Premier David Makhura: 4th Industrial Revolution SA Digital Economy Summit

Welcome address by Premier David Makhura at ehe 4IR South Africa Digital Economy Summit. Gallagher Estate, Johannesburg

The President of the Republic of South Africa, His Excellency President Cyril Ramaphosa;
Minister responsible for Communications, Telecommunication & Postal Services, Hon. Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams;
Ministers and Deputy Ministers;
Vice Chancellors of the Universities of Wits, Johannesburg and Fort Hare - Prof Adam Habib, Prof Tshilidzi Marwala and Prof Sakhela Buhlungu;
CEO of Telkom and other Business leaders;
DGs and CEOs of State-owned Enterprises in the sector;
Academics, Innovators and Entrepreneurs;
International guests:
Members of the Presidential Commission on the 4th Industrial Revolution;
Ladies and gentlemen

Welcome to the 4th Industrial Revolution SA Digital Economy Summit which takes place right here in Gauteng.

Welcome to the future.

I am glad that this ground-breaking Summit takes place here in our province.

Gauteng is at the cutting edge of South Africa's efforts to be the continent's hub of innovation, digital transformation and 4th Industrial Revolution.

We refuse to be left out or left behind.

As Klaus Schwab would argue, we live in a time of great promise and great peril and the future depends on what we do today, not tomorrow.

The World Economic Forum points out that 'we stand on the brink of a technological revolution that will fundamentally alter the way we live, work and relate to one another. In its scale, scope and complexity, the transformation will be unlike anything humankind has experienced before. We do not yet know just how it will unfold, but one thing is clear: the response to it must be integrated and comprehensive, involving all stakeholders of the global polity, from the public and private sectors to academia and civil society.'

The WEF also estimates that 65% of children entering primary school will find themselves in occupations that today do not exist.

We in South Africa are also moving fast to a future in which 41% of current jobs in South Africa will be rendered obsolete by automation; when 35% of skills that are considered important in today's workforce will have changed beyond recognition and others would have disappeared completely.

Uzair Younus, an analyst at Albright Stonebridge Group argues:

'If developing economies are to grow, they must implement policies that equip people with the skills required to operate and develop new technologies. Basic reading and writing skills will not be enough; the workforce of the fourth industrial revolution must know how to write and read computer codes and work in conjunction with sophisticated hardware and software. The fourth industrial revolution is like a bullet train coming and it is up to policy makers to prepare and enable the masses to either get on board or risk being a casualty in its path.'

Africa cannot be left behind. We cannot be left out.

South Africa must take a lead in order to ensure that we collectively harness the opportunities and navigate the challenges brought about by the advent of 4th Industrial Revolution.

Mr President, I am glad that you have set up a high-level Commission chaired by yourself to prepare our nation to take full advantage of the promise of the 4IR and avert its peril.

This Summit takes place at the right time.

Already, there is evidence that many sectors of the South African economy are undergoing a digital transition, although not at a fast-enough pace.

For instance, the average ICT intensity of jobs in South Africa has increased by 20% over the past decade.

Gauteng province determined to be play its part as the economic engine of South Africa and industrial, technological and financial hub of Sub-Saharan.

We are the first provincial government to set up a Department of e-Government in our country as part of our drive to be a smart, innovation-driven, knowledge-based and digital economy.

We have invested significant resources in the rollout of broadband to peripheral and deprived communities in Gauteng as part of the modernisation of our economy to address the danger of digital exclusion, digital poverty and digital inequality.

More than 85% of Gauteng households have access to a functional cellular phone and 65% have internet connectivity.

Broadband connectivity has a positive impact on the GDP, business environment and quality of life of citizens.

Gauteng provincial has also been working hard to shift the delivery of some of public services to digital platforms and this has received positive feedback from citizens.

Mr President, recent data suggests that many sectors of the Gauteng economy are increasingly becoming knowledge intensive sectors and they require digital skills.

For an example, software and ICT services firms attracted the most FDI, benefitting 104 firms involved in 110 projects. This is followed by 57 communication firms involved in 64 projects.

The demand for digital skills is massive and we are already collaborating with major technology companies and our universities to train one million young people with digital skills through our Tshepo 1 Million programme.

We are also working with our universities and private sector centres of excellence to build enduring and agile innovation ecosystem.

The 4th industrial revolution is upon us and we must take action to prepare our nation fully for the new economy and new society.

So we need a country strategy so that we don't just muddle through, hoping that somehow we will survive.

Let us heed the words of Economics Nobel Laurette, Professor Robert Shiller, who says:

'You cannot wait until a house burns down to buy fire insurance on it. We cannot wait until there are massive dislocations in our society to prepare for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.'

That time to develop a comprehensive country strategy is now because South Africa is back on its two feet.

Distinguished delegates, we have a President who has a vision, a determination and a drive to move South Africa's ship from the troubled waters of low-growth trap, unemployment and corruption.

President Ramaphosa is serious about economic recovery, increasing investment and rebuilding our public institutions so that our democracy can work for all our people.

He is a man on a mission to ensure that our country assumes, once more, its leadership role in Africa and it takes its rightful place among the successful nations of the world.

Mr President, the whole nation is fully behind you and our people share your passion about building a South Africa of our dreams.

This South Africa of our dreams include positioning our country to play its rightful role and find its place in the 4IR and in the digital economy.

May I suggest that you are gathered here at this 4IR Summit are part of that dream team that is re-imagining our country beyond its present perils.

I wish this timely Inaugural 4IR SA Digital Economy Summit success.

You are all welcome.

Thank you.