SABBC Chairman: Dr Iqbal Survé

JOHANNESBURG - BRICS countries - led by South Africa - are going to prioritise the digital economy in the development of cheaper, quicker and faster digital and mobile technology.

BRICS comprises five major emerging national economies - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

The incoming chairman of the BRICS Business Council, Dr. Iqbal Survé, said the “4th Industrial Revolution (4IR)” was characterised by dramatic and disruptive change in the ways societies are run. 

He said that if the third Industrial revolution was associated with the rise of computer technology - the 4IR would be associated with supercomputing, blockchain technologies, and artificial intelligence.

"[This] is fundamentally different to the previous three revolutions because for the first time that which was a figment of our imagination can begin to happen - humans can be replaced in virtually every sphere of productive life," said Dr. Survé, in his address at the BRICS Business Council 2018 Midterm meeting held in Shanghai on Thursday, 27 March.

"At its most promising, the Fourth Industrial Revolution is an unprecedented opportunity for the BRICS countries and Africans, who have hitherto been largely excluded from the 4IR tidal wave, to embrace and fully participate in the technology metamorphosis, to co-create Africa’s own digital future and assist its people to move from low to moderate prosperity and better living standards."

He said as part of the work plan, the Skills Development Working Group of the BRICS Business Council would host the second BRICS Skills Competition in South Africa at the end of September 2018, with a focus on skills required in the future. 

"Focus areas will include Cyber Security, the Internet of Things, Data Analytics; Industrial Robotics and Intelligent Manufacturing. An MOU to be proposed on Cooperation on Skills development for the 4IR for the BBC Annual Meeting in July," he said.

The news comes as Singapore-based veteran investor, Jim Rodgers, on Tuesday said that South Africa was a highly bankable investment destination for Africans and for international investors alike, adding that the country's recent ascendancy to the chairmanship of BRICS also puts it in the highly enviable position as a leader of the developing world.

Sagarmatha Technologies, an integrated multi-sided platform technology group in which Quantum Fund co-founder Rodgers is a shareholder, will list on the main board of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) on Friday.

The listing is contingent on raising a minimum amount of R3 billion, in conjunction with a private placement of 189,298,334 ordinary no par value shares at R39.62 per share in a bid to raise R7.5 billion.  

The company has identified key strategic points for citizen growth and knowledge empowerment within the context of the 4IR as it rolls out across Africa.  

“I’m not an expert at actually creating technology, but I know it has the power to re-shape Africa, providing countless opportunities for new businesses and profits. Through what Amazon and Google have done in other countries around the world, they have pretty much laid the blueprint for Africa," Rodgers said.

"Companies with a footprint like Sagarmatha Technologies, with their expertise and leadership, are now perfectly positioned to apply these learnings to what is essentially virgin territory. There’s a market of at least one billion people across the continent, all hungry for information, the ability to transact and they are primed to be unlocked.”

Far from detracting from the potential for Africans to be doing it for Africans, Rogers said he believes that the rapid spread of technology will enhance this burgeoning promise.

“Africa as a continent is under-developed, but it has a gigantic, innovative and extremely hardworking population who are hungry for advancement and who are prepared to grab it with both hands," Rodgers said.

"They are primed and ready to push the right buttons. If you can find competent management in African-based companies, jump in with both feet. The sky will be the limit."

In the statement released on Tuesday, Dr Survé said the Council approved the release of the BRICS Digital Economic Development Initiative and endorsed the proposal of setting up a working group on the digital economy.

The BRICS countries represent more than 40 percent of the global population and said the opportunity for developing countries to leapfrog technology, unencumbered by needing massive investments in legacy infrastructure and technologies, offered an incredible opportunity for training and developing human talent within the countries. 

The BRICS economies seek to unlock the potential for growth through the digital economy through the aggressive adoption of a fully inclusive mobile economy.

Dr Survé said that this was particularly exciting for the South African economy, with its highly developed digital infrastructure and highly prized lifestyle.

- African News Agency (ANA)

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