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Technology Must Improve People's Lives

CISCO EVENT MINISTERCommunications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams suggests that at the heart of 4th Industrial Revolution discussions must be – people. “As we move towards 4IR, people must be placed at the centre of whatever we do to adapt to the and the technological changes that drive it. These discussions must be about how we use technology to improve people’s living standards, to deliver better and more efficient services to meet their needs and to open up avenues for them to reach their human potential,” she said.

The Minister further mentioned that citizens must be empowered to embrace opportunities brought by 4IR while minimizing its negative side effects.

She was speaking at the Global Festival Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue held on 3 December 2018 in Johannesburg and hosted by telecommunications multi-national, CISCO.

The event sought to create dialogue between government and business on ICT investment opportunities to realise the NDP 2030 vision as well as skills and capacity building, SMME development and job creation towards the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

The National Development Plan (NDP) vision 2030 emphasises the necessity of sound economic infrastructure as a precondition for economic growth. Accordingly, the country’s long-term goal is to mobilise R1.2 trillion in new investments by 2024.

On ICT, the NDP envisions that by 2030, there will be a seamless information infrastructure that not only meets the needs of citizens, business and public sector; but also provides access to a wide range of services required for effective economic and social participation.

Ndabeni-Abrahams reiterated that the department has endeavoured to train one million young people on data science skills such as coding, robotics, Artificial Intelligence, cloud computing and networking; amongst others. However, achieving this noble ambition requires the coordination, collaboration and harmonisation of sector efforts.

In this respect, the Minister (then Deputy Minister) convened a Multi-Stakeholder Engagement on 4IR Skills in October under the theme, “coordinate. collaborate. execute 4IR.” The engagement forum was integral in determining the skills development initiatives currently being implemented and how these can be synchronised to ensure that the country adequately responds to the 4IR environment.

Central to the CISCO multi-stakeholder dialogue was discussions on how to bridge the ICT skills gap, job creation and creating an enabling environment for SMMEs to thrive in the digital environment. The Minister explained in great length the department’s National Digital Skills and ICT SMME Development Strategies.

The multi-stakeholder dialogue proceeded the Global Citizen Festival held at the FNB Stadium on 2 December wherein R100 billion was committed towards education, women empowerment, health and environment initiatives.