The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) recently released a report ranking South Africa at number 38 out of the 82 biggest economies sampled to assess readiness for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

According to the report, South Africa fared well in a number of categories, mainly in mobile phone subscription, economic infrastructure and e-commerce. On the other hand, the report revealed that the country is being hindered by income inequalities and a shortage of digital skills.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution, in which disruptive technologies will prevail, is upon us. Trends like the Internet of Things (IoT), robotics, virtual reality (VR) and artificial intelligence (AI) are expected to change the way we live and work. These technologies are disrupting almost every industry in every country, and extent of these changes is expected to transform entire systems of production, management and governance.

Though observers agree that the Fourth Industrial Revolution has the ability to unlock the potential of the continent, particularly in the areas of health and education, there are concerns that Africa may play a minor role in the evolution of this ecosystem due to a lack of the ICT skills needed.

It is also well documented that there are concerns that the Fourth Industrial Revolution will lead to improved skills for the job market and opportunities for entrepreneurship. According to Statistics SA, unemployment in South Africa surged to 27.2% in the second quarter of 2018 from 26.7%.

It was for these reasons that MTN Business chose to support the most recent edition of the Public Sector ICT Forum (PSICTF) in Limpopo this week. The PSICTF is a platform where public sector ICT decision-makers discuss a range of topics that are key to innovation in this space. The forum was held under the theme: ‘Meeting the skills needs of the fourth industrial revolution’, and featured speakers from major entities including Transnet, National Lotteries Commission, Airports Company South Africa and SITA.

“MTN Business is proud to support initiatives aimed at advancing alignment between the growth and developmental objectives of government, and the sustainability of the ICT sector. Through these forums, we can share best practice and explore how we can harness the transformative power of connectivity to drive productivity and the delivery of important services to ratepayers,” Matthew Khumalo, General Manager for Limpopo and Mpumalanga at MTN.

Some key insights from this edition of the PSICTF, speaking to the event’s main theme were:
  • Harnessing skills and driving innovation – the role of the hackathons in driving solutions and motivating public servants in unpacking problem statements towards building relevant solutions with a customer centric approach.
  • Solutions in developing students’ skills in preparation for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
  • Cloud computing in government and the need for skills in problem solving.

“Everyone has a role to play to ensure that South Africa reaps the benefits of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. For our part, MTN has built a world-class network that will support the connectivity needs of its enterprise customers. We are pleased with the outcomes of the conference and the commitments that all the participants have undertaken to boost the skills required to leapfrog South Africa to the next level,” concludes Matthew Khumalo, GM Regional Operation Limpopo and Mpumalanga.

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