Gauteng premier David Makhura speaks at the 4th Industrial Revolution SA digital economy summit in Midrand on Friday, July 5. PHOTO: Supplied by the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS)

MIDRAND - Gauteng premier David Makhura said on Friday South Africa must take the lead on the continent in advancing technological innovations relating to the fourth industrial revolution.

The fourth industrial revolution is the current global trend in which technologies and trends such as the Internet of Things, robotics, virtual reality and artificial intelligence are changing the way people live and work.

"South Africa must take a lead in order to ensure that we collectively harness the opportunities and navigate the challenges brought about by the advent of 4th Industrial Revolution. Africa cannot be left behind. We cannot be left out," Makhura told the 4th Industrial Revolution SA (4IRSA) digital economy summit being hosted by an alliance from the public and private sectors, academia and civil society.

"We in South Africa are also moving fast to a future in which 41 percent of current jobs in South Africa will be rendered obsolete by automation; when 35 percent of skills that are considered important in today's workforce will have changed beyond recognition and others would have disappeared completely."

The 4IRSA partnership seeks to develop an inclusive, coherent, national response to the fourth industrial revolution for South Africa based on research and to complement and support other national activities relating to this.

Makhura said there was evidence that many sectors of the South African economy were undergoing a digital transition, although the pace was not fast enough. He said the average Information and communications technology (ICT) intensity of jobs in South Africa had increased by 20 percent over the past decade.

Gauteng province was determined to be play its part as the economic engine of South Africa and the industrial, technological and financial hub of sub-Saharan Africa, he added. The provincial government had also been working to shift the delivery of some public services to digital platforms, with positive feedback from residents.

"We have invested significant resources in the rollout of broadband to peripheral and deprived communities in Gauteng as part of the modernisation of our economy to address the danger of digital exclusion, digital poverty and digital inequality," Makhura said.

President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected deliver the keynote address at the summit. 

To showcase advances in technology and immense opportunities of the digital economy, the first-of-its-kind, live holographic projection of Ramaphosa's address will be transmitted to the Rustenburg Civic Centre in North West province.

- African News Agency (ANA)