4IR Opportunities for South Africa
A brief presentation was given by Mark Schoeman, of Genesis Analytics. He warned that the country could not lose time preparing for the extraordinary opportunities and risks presented by the digital age. The session agreed that conversations on opportunities in the digital revolution needed to be anchored by good governance, ethics and values. Talks also focussed on how best to harness the country’s youth bulge and township economy.
The Future of Work & Jobs
The panel comprised:
- Imraan Valodia, who is the Dean of the Faculty of Commerce, Law and Management at Wits University.
- Gugu Sema, the CEO of the Media, Information and Communications Technology Sector Education and Training Authority
- Justin Li, Talent Competence Development Principal Consultant, Huawei
International Labour Organisation Senior Specialist Maria Machailo-Ellis kicked off the session with a presentation on the organisation’s latest Future of Work Report, “Work for a Brighter Future”. It focuses on:
- Increasing investment in people’s capabilities
- Increasing investment in the institutions of work
- Increasing investment in decent and sustainable work
Attendees concluded that while there would be new jobs, unemployment as a result of 4IR was already happening. Social security needed to be strengthened, and upskilling was essential. Discussions also centred around education and how the concept of work needed to be re-imagined
Regulation of the Digital Economy
- Hardin Ratshisusu, Deputy Commissioner of theCompetition Commission
- Aisha Pandor, co-founder and CEO of SweepSouth
- S’onqoba Vuba, Presidential Commissioner on 4IR and co-founder of Perpetu8
- Tshepo Moloi, founder and CEO of StokFella
The panellists shared lessons in starting their own businesses – particularly around legislation, regulations and constraints – and how technology platforms have helped to improve the lives of South Africans. Following discussions between the speakers and their audience, conclusions included that the country should encourage and support an entrepreneurial state, partner with countries and organisations that have the required skills for the short term, and that regulators had to be careful not to overregulate. They also called for easier access to financing.
Skills & Teaching for 4IR
- Des Hugo, Head of Curriculum at Nova Pioneer Academies
- Lerato Nxomani Pakade, Talent Strategist at Regent Career Architect
- Elizabeth Henning, Founder of the Centre for Education Practice Research
- Sekili Tlhabane, Chief Director at the Department of Basic Education
The panel agreed that teachers needed to “unlearn” outdated teaching methods and allow learners to contribute to the teaching process. They said dialogue with millennials, universities and the corporate sector were essential to ensure the best outcomes, and digital illiteracy amongst the workforce was a critical gap that needed attention.
Artificial Intelligence: Frontiers in Applications & Ethics Breakaway
This discussion was led by Deloitte SA’s AI leads, Dr Quintin Williams and Wessel Oosthuizen. They told the audience that the potential impact of AI on the economy was impressive. These included an additional one percent on GDP growth and an increase of workforce productivity by two percent. Key aspects critical to drive AI included long-term planning, generating AI research and development, creating a dynamic start-up ecosystem, cultivating skills internally, and removing entry barriers for AI companies.