Time running out to nominate candidates for 4th Industrial Revolution Commission

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Communications minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams.
Communications minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams.

Time is running out to make nominations for candidates for the Presidential Commission on the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR).

In a letter dated 30 November communications minister, Stella Ndabeni- Abrahams, called for nominations. The notice was however only published in the government gazette on 4 December and South Africans only have until Monday 10 December to make their nominations.

"As part of this effort the commission will identify and recommend policies, strategies and plans that are needed to position South Africa as one of the leading countries in the evolution and development of the Fourth Industrial Revolution," she says.

The commission will coordinate the development of South Africa's national response through a comprehensive action plan to deal with the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

The concept was first announced by president Cyril Ramaphosa in the State of the Nation Address 2018, and he then called it the Digital Industrial Revolution Commission.

Ndabeni- Abrahams says that the commission will comprise of representatives of a cross section of stakeholders including: public sector, business; academia and research institutions, experts, labour, SMMEs, youth, women and non-governmental organisations.

"While the discourse on the 4IR is usually dominated by the role of government and the private sector other stakeholders in civil society such as academia, women and youth also have a significant role to play to ensure overall buy-in by all role players in society. The 4IR manifests itself through technological innovations its impact cuts across all levels of society hence the need for a broader perspective and approach," the concept document for the commission says.

The commission will have some big responsibilities and will:

  • Develop an integrated national strategy and plan to respond to the 4IR. This will include detailed interventions to be carried out in achieving competitiveness of the key economic sectors, including agriculture, finance, mining, manufacturing, ICT and electronics, and business with science, technology and innovation as a cross-cutting enabler;
  • Advise on strategies to enhance South Africa's global competitiveness;
  • Advise on a research program to advance 4IR;
  • Advise on the skills development and future of work;
  • Make recommendations on enabling relevant infrastructure for South Africa to
  • participate in the digital economy;
  • Make recommendations on an institutional framework and mechanism to
  • coordinate 4IR programs;
  • Make recommendations on approaches to address inclusivity and digital divide;
  • Make recommendations on interventions to enable entrepreneurship and SMMEs to take advantage of the 4IR;
  • Mobilise resources to support the fourth industrial revolution interventions;
  • Make recommendations on mechanisms to measure the impact of Interventions on 4IR.

The commission will be chaired by president Ramaphosa or his nominee and will meet twice a year. It will report to Cabinet and publish its reports at least once a year.

The commission may acquire the services of technical experts in order to discharge its mandate and must also endeavour to align its activities to ensure alignment with the National Development Plan.

"The advent of the Fourth Industrial Revolution has necessitated that countries develop new policies, strategies and innovation plans to enable an inclusive whole of society approach with government playing a leadership responsibility. South Africa currently has different elements of the 4IR spread across government, the private sector and civil society but there is currently no single plan or blueprint which brings together all key role players into a single focus," the concept document says.

Government says it will provide secretariat and administrative support to the commission.

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