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WEF Africa turns spotlight on 4IR

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Similar to the international event, this year’s World Economic Forum (WEF) on Africa will focus on the fourth industrial revolution (4IR).

The 28 instalment of the WEF Africa meeting will be held from 4 to 6 September at the Cape Town International Convention Centre. This year also marks the first time WEF has been held in sub-Saharan Africa since 2017.

According to a statement, this event – under the theme: “Shaping Inclusive Growth and Shared Futures in the Fourth Industrial Revolution” – seeks to address some of the key issues facing the region’s inclusive development. These include supporting growth and integration through the African Continental Free Trade Area, creating high-quality employment opportunities and protecting workers in the 4IR, and employing drones to address health, infrastructure and other societal needs.

“Africa’s successful development depends on building the right conditions for its new generation of entrepreneurs, innovators and leaders, says Elsie Kanza, head of the regional agenda and member of the executive committee at the World Economic Forum.

“This means smart, agile institutions, an enabling environment for innovation that includes access to skills and capital, and a determined approach by policy-makers to level the playing field and implement policies that prioritise sustainable, inclusive growth over short-term imperatives.”

4IR commission

The fourth industrial revolution has become a key focus for local political leaders, including president Cyril Ramaphosa, who believe the country needs to combine resources and expertise to seize the opportunities brought on by 4IR.

In April, the Presidency announced the 4IR commission, with representatives of a cross-section of stakeholders, including public sector, business, telecoms, academia and research institutions, finance and SMMEs.

President Ramaphosa chairs the commission, while professor Tshilidzi Marwala, vice-chancellor at the University of Johannesburg, serves as deputy chairman.

The commission is mandated to advise government on 4IR policies, develop a framework for implementation of a multi-sectoral 4IR strategy; and coordinate, monitor and evaluate multi-sectoral initiatives that will position South Africa as a globally competitive player in 4IR.

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