Deputy President David Mabuza says the South African government is developing comprehensive responses to the advent of the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR) through the Presidential Advisory Commission on the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
The Deputy President said this when he returned to the National Assembly to field oral questions on Tuesday.
AIC’s Lulama Ntshayisa had asked the Deputy President what steps he has taken to lead the process to ensure that technology is at the forefront of taking trade into the 4IR in the context of the recently signed African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement.
Mabuza said while the scope of the Free Trade Agreement does not include technology and digital trade in specific terms, the African Union is currently undertaking parallel initiatives on the development of an African Digital Trade and Digital Economy Development Strategy through the Specialised Technical Committee on Trade, Industry and Mineral Resources.
“For its part, South Africa is developing a comprehensive response to the digital trade and the 4th Industrial Revolution through the President’s Advisory Commission on the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
“The emerging issues from these processes as far as initiatives around 4th Industrial Revolution is concerned, should bring into sharper focus how as African countries we engage meaningfully in technical cooperation across various sectors of development,” he said.
Addressing MPs, Mabuza said the continent should look at how youth unemployment can be addressed by harnessing its manufacturing capability and human innovation.
“We can for example make major advances in upscaling of our value-added exports taking advantage of rapid technological advances to achieve new efficiencies along product value chains.
“The deployment of digital banking technologies and solutions across the continent will integrate financial services, facilitate trade, eliminate red tape, and reduce the cost of doing business on the continent. It will link producers with markets.”
He said for South Africa, building a better Africa would require a focus on technical cooperation between relevant research and development agencies as well as industry associations in areas of industrial research, technology development and transfer, standards and enterprise development as tools to enhance further trade and investment.
“We call upon the private sector in particular, to play its part in the process of continuous skilling of its workforce to adapt to the ever-changing environment influenced by technological advancement.”