File photo: Courtney Africa / African News Agency (ANA)

Cape Town – Science and Technology Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane says South Africa needed to put measures in place to respond to the emergence of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR).

She addressed the last day of the inaugural Africa Tech Week conference in Century City yesterday.

The two-day conference, by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) in partnership with the City of Cape Town, focused on insight and solutions for business strategy.

Kubayi-Ngubane said the country had made substantial investments in cyber-infrastructure as well as in the acquisition and generation of data across a number of domains.

She said technologies such as 5G, Internet of Things (IoT) sensors and platforms, edge computing, AI and analytics, robotics, blockchain, additive manufacturing and virtual reality are coalescing into a fertile environment for the Industrial IoT.

Kubayi-Ngubane said Communications and Telecommunications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams would soon be issuing a policy directive to the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) on the licensing of the frequency spectrum.

“This will pave the way for investments in 5G technology that will completely change the Internet of Things landscape. With regard to the 4IR, we are in the process of establishing an African 4IR centre, in the form of an SA affiliate to the World Economic Forum’s Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” she said.

Kubayi-Ngubane said the proposed centre would assist with the coordination of research, innovation and conformance standards testing to enable Africa to effectively tackle its socio-economic challenges and become a competitive participant in the global economy.

She said President Cyril Ramaphosa established the Presidential Commission on the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which would help SA respond to the new environment, including how AI can assist in building a better country.

Cape Times