The 4IR is driven by connectivity and atomisation. It is furthermore mainly about ‘disruptive technologies’ such as artificial intelligence, robotics, blockchains and 3D printing. Klaus Schwab, the founder of the World Economic Forum (WEF) stated that artificial intelligence can produce a medical diagnosis from an x-ray foster than a radiologist and with the pinpoints accuracy. Robots can manufacture cars faster and with more precision than assembly-line workers. Furthermore, they can potentially mine base metals like platinum and copper which are crucial ingredients for renewable energy and carbon cleaning technologies. 3D printing will be changing manufacturing business models because companies are trying to take advantage of the technological advancements to gain profits and this will be done through innovations which will be more than just replacements for traditional manufacturing.
The one major positive aspect about the 4IR is that this rapid technological advances in renewable energy, fuel efficiency and energy storage will not only make investments in these fuels increasingly profitable which will boost GDP growth, but they will also contribute to mitigating climate change which is one of the major global challenges of our time.
The 4IR can also empower small and medium enterprises which are the backbone of the South African economy. Sipho Pityana who is the President of the Business Unity South Africa (BUSA) stated that “the SME sector employs 47% of South Africa’s workforce and contribute more than 20% to the country’s GDP and pays about 6% of cooperate taxes”. SME’s are important in being the source of innovation. However, many of these SME’s ability to grow is limited due to lack of access to finance, access to markets, inadequate skills, uncompetitive regulatory frameworks and technological disruptions.
The Global Entrepreneurship Week is an initiative to support entrepreneurship and to ignite further opportunities and trends. We will have Experts from the Agro-processing; energy, food and water nexus; technology and the gaming sector. They will give us an insight into how these different sectors contribute to our country’s economy and how entrepreneurs can help mitigate the problems which the country is currently facing.