“The commission will assist government in taking advantage of the opportunities presented by the digital industrial revolution,” the Presidency said in a statement on Tuesday, 9 April 2019.
The task of the commission, which will be chaired by the President, is to identify relevant policies, strategies and action plans that will position South Africa as a competitive global player.
The Deputy Chair of the Commission is University of Johannesburg Professor Tshilidzi Marwala, whose expertise spans the theory and application of artificial intelligence to engineering, computer science, finance, social science and medicine.
In his State of the Nation Address to a joint sitting of Parliament on 7 February 2019, President Ramaphosa said South Africa had chosen to be a country of the future at a time when the world was changing at a pace and in a manner that was unprecedented in human history.
He said revolutionary advances in technology were reshaping the way people work and live.
“Unless we adapt, unless we understand the nature of the profound change that is reshaping our world and unless we readily embrace the opportunities it presents, the promise of our nation’s birth will forever remain unfulfilled,” said the President.
In the same address, the President announced the establishment of a Presidential Commission on 4IR.
In establishing the commission, a public consultation process was undertaken to attract eminent people, who possess the relevant skills and knowledge required to drive 4IR.
The 30-member commission comprises eminent persons from different sectors of society and reflects a balance in gender, youth, labour and business, including digital start-ups as well as digital entrepreneurships.
The commissioners (whose profiles can be viewed in an annexure at https://bit.ly/2ELYzQ8) are:
Operational support to the commission will be provided by a secretariat of officials of various national departments, led by the Department of Communications.
President Ramaphosa wished the commission well in its endeavours and expressed his appreciation to commissioners for availing themselves to serve the nation in an important determinant of South Africa’s development trajectory in the coming years and decades.
“Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, who is the coordinator of government’s 4IR programme, is due to convene an induction session with appointed commissioners, after which the commission will have its inaugural meeting with the President,” said the Presidency.
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