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Taking South Africa Forward

Taking South Africa Forward

My search for good news continues, and even though sometimes it seems like I am searching for a needle in a haystack, every now and then one strikes gold. One particular gem I managed to find was in Time magazine’s double issue of 23 September 2019. It may have been paid for editorial, courtesy of the South African taxpayer, but at this stage I will take anything. And it is a good way to segue into our now traditional year end good news issue

The advertorial talks about the four industrial revolutions, starting with mechanisation and steam technology in the 18th century, then electrification in the late 19th century, moving to the computer and digital age in the second half of the 20th century, and now the cyber physical revolution we are currently experiencing in the second decade of the 21st century. The editorial expounds on the optimistic thesis that South Africa’s Fourth Industrial Revolution is upon us, and that South Africa must not only be part of this evolution, but a world leader in taking this progress forward, beginning with the ringing words of president Cyril Ramaphosa at the first SA Digital Economy Summit: “Given what we know today about the potential beneficial impacts of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), we must embrace this historic confluence of human insights and engagement, artificial intelligence and technology, to rise to the challenges of poverty, unemployment and equality.”

We are then given some interesting facts, which are basically akin to the curate’s egg, but let us take heart from these facts, and build upon them:

1. Global Innovation Index 2018 ranks South Africa as the world's 58th (out of 127countries) most innovative economy.

2. Bloomberg 2019 Innovation Index ranked SA at 21 in the world for its 'patent activity,' based on resident patent filings, total patent grants, patents per population, filings per GDP and total grants awarded as a share of the world's total.

3. Bloomberg ranked SA 35th highest in the world for its "high-tech density" (the number of domestically domiciled high-tech public companies as a percentage of domestic publicly listed companies and as a share of the world's total public high-tech companies.)

4. The Good Country Index (2018) ranks South Africa 18th out of 163 nations for Science & Technology.

5. Cabinet has approved the White Paper on Science, Technology and Innovation which identifies 4IR as a key focus, placing STI at the centre of the country's development agenda.

6. The South African government is spearheading an affiliate centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (C4IR), under the WEF banner.

7. The 2018 Global Innovation Index shows South Africa's strengths in its sophisticated market and business sector.

8. Other strong indicators: access to credit, market capitalisation, university and industry research collaboration, cluster development and intellectual property payments.

9. Partnerships are commencing between the South African government and the manufacturing sector through Industry Associations and Export Councils to prepare for the 4IR.

10. South Africa was also appointed as Chair of the International Special Tooling & Machining Association (ISTMA) World Board (2018 to 2020), which aims to fully align the ISTMA World Association's work with the DIR production systems and technologies. Taking advantage of the opportunity, South African industry will establish the ISTMA African Forum to promote special tooling and machining in Africa.

Let us grasp this nettle, and let us begin.

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