Team SA sets its agenda for WEF 2019

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Minister of communications Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams.
Minister of communications Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams.

South Africa will not be a spectator in the age of the fourth industrial revolution but will build a capable and innovative workforce for the future digital revolution.

This is the sentiment shared by communications minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, speaking in a video message ahead of the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting this week.

Ndabeni-Abrahams is part of the SA-delegation, which includes president Cyril Ramaphosa, finance minister Tito Mboweni, other government officials, and leaders of business and labour, attending the annual event taking place in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland.

This year's gathering is held under the theme "Globalisation 4.0: Shaping a Global Architecture in the Age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution". The agenda will cover topics such as economic policies, human capital, industry systems, cyber security and institutional reform.

In the video, Ndabeni-Abrahams expresses her excitement at being part of the SA-delegation to WEF. "As the South African government, we've taken a conscious decision to make sure our people are ready for the fourth industrial revolution so that they can enjoy the economic spin-offs that come with it."

The theme for this year's event talks directly to the plans we have as government, she notes. "We are investing more in skills and are making sure we introduce coding to those that are still young."

The minister's comments echo one of the promises made by the ANC in its election manifesto.

In the manifesto, the ANC made a commitment to scale up skills development for the youth in areas such as data analytics, Internet of things, blockchain and machine learning. This, according to the party, is to enable training of young people to develop and operate new technologies.

Meanwhile, MTN Group CEO Rob Shuter, representing SA's private sector delegation, will speak on investing in digital for inclusive growth in the fourth industrial revolution.

Shuter is also expected to contribute to a series of high-level panel topics, including the establishment of a single African market under the Continental Free Trade Area agreement and accelerating investment to support universal access to broadband.

"With the youthful population in Africa being born digital, and mobile devices and networks being at the heart of the digital revolution on our continent, the fourth industrial revolution gives the continent an opportunity to leverage our assets to leapfrog development and economic growth. We must invest in the future and be prepared," he says.

The WEF annual meeting runs from 22 to 25 January.

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