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Govt, Microsoft launch digital lab for black industrialists

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Government has partnered with Microsoft to launch a digital transformation project for black industrialists, which will see the two establish a digital lab.

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) says the project will help create value for black-owned businesses and assist them to maintain a competitive advantage in a digital-first world.

The programme was launched by deputy minister of trade and industry Nomalungelo Gina in Mandeni, KwaZulu-Natal, last week.

The deputy minister said: “We want to have credible and experienced mentors, especially from the private sector, who will hand-hold all those who will be using the digital hub for innovation and starting various businesses of the future.

“The hub will help a lot in our quest for facilitating faster growth in the township and rural economy. We want to tap on the youth talent in our rural and township communities passionate about digital space.”

Gina added government is committed to nurturing and supporting black industrialists to grow and become globally competitive.

“The Microsoft digital transformation programme will offer industrialists the opportunity to embark on the digital transformation journey by providing assistance in developing tailored solutions for the successful candidates. We are confident that once the selected industrialists complete this journey with Microsoft, they will be at par operationally to those established companies who use modern methods of doing business, thus deriving value.”

The deputy minister explained Microsoft SA is embarking on a top-up equity equivalent investment programme, “making a further three years of investment into South Africa to help individuals, businesses and government to successfully navigate the fourth industrial revolution (4IR) wave. Today, we are launching this initiative, called the Digital Transformation Programme for Black Industrialists.”

Also speaking at the launch, Microsoft digital transformation technological officer Robbi Laurenson said the partnership with the department will assist in unlocking new ways of creating value in digital business and using business as a platform to address 4IR challenges.

The Microsoft and DTI programme focuses on how the 4IR will have an impact within the manufacturing sector, by supporting the black industrialists.

The initiative comes as new research by the International Finance Corporation shows demand for digital skills in Sub-Saharan Africa is expected to grow at a faster rate than in other markets.

The report estimates 230 million jobs in Sub-Saharan Africa will require digital skills by 2030, presenting investors and education operators with an estimated $130 billion opportunity to train the future workforce in digital skills.

The study sheds light on the crucial need for digital skills as a driver of economic growth and competitiveness across sectors in the region, from agriculture to services.

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