Gauteng aims to be leader in research and innovation

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Gauteng premier David Makhura. [Photo source: GCIS]
Gauteng premier David Makhura. [Photo source: GCIS]

The Gauteng province is determined to be a leader in the innovation, research and development sectors, as these will become major drivers of economic growth.

This was the sentiment shared by Gauteng premier David Makhura at the Technology Innovation Conference last week.

Makhura pointed out that the move to become the first provincial government to set up a department of e-government in the country firmly positioned Gauteng to be an innovation-driven and knowledge-based economy.

Recent data on the structure of the Gauteng economy shows the mining and manufacturing sectors, which have been the backbone of the economy, have now reached their peak, noted the premier.

On the other hand, however, the average intensity of ICT jobs in SA has increased by 20% over the last decade, he said. "We have an innovation ecosystem that is already evolving and this ecosystem is at the centre of the unfolding industrial transformation of the provincial economy."

Makhura added that an emerging trend is that the majority of foreign direct investment (FDI) into the Gauteng economy is directed towards firms in the knowledge and digital economy.

"Last year, software and ICT services firms attracted the most FDI, which benefitted the firms involved in projects in Gauteng."

Industry 4.0 ready

Makhura cautioned that the transition to the fourth industrial revolution is approaching like a bullet train, and policy-makers in developing economies need to prepare and enable the masses to either get on board or risk being a casualty in its path.

He explained that the technological revolution will fundamentally alter the way we live, work and relate to one another, and Africa cannot be left behind and cannot miss the train this time round.

"We don't yet know how the fourth industrial revolution will unfold but one thing is clear: the response must be integrated and comprehensive, involving the global community, private and public sectors, academia and civil society.

"We must craft a collective response to opportunities and challenges brought about by the fourth industrial revolution and that response must of necessity be integrated and comprehensive, involving all stakeholders."

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