South Africa joins another revolution


By Hlamvukazi Yose and Ncebakazi Ntsokota

African youth seem to lack confidence and believe that their own ideas are small – when in fact they could be life changing.

At Thursday’s Science Café, Jim Adam, retired deputy chief of technology at NASA, advised us to not let test scores to be the only determinant of success. Rather, we should aim to be the creative person who comes up with the solution to the problem.

On a panel chaired by Jayne Morgan, Adam was joined by Anja Fourie, science promotions co-ordinator at SKA Africa, and Phillip Machanick, associate professor at Rhodes University Computer Science Department. Together they discussed the fourth industrial revolution, which is the development of technology and how it can work together with the social sciences in ways that can changes lives. For example, Fourie said, drones were introduced in Rwanda to deliver medicine to rural areas from the city, while in South Africa it is often used to shoot popular music videos.

Adam referred to the fourth industrial revolution as the “natural extension of what is happening in the world and what is going to happen in the future”. He also said that this revolution is a virtual way of living and can be used to control things externally, for instance, a person in America can become a CEO in a South African company.

For Fourie, the fourth industrial revolution is about “innovation 4.0”, immense data, creativity and the potential that comes with the huge data. “Data is the new commodity of the future and people need to be comfortable with technological changes,” she said. Fourie also said that 54% of the people in Africa are actually the youth, and that science is always open to funding new ideas that will not only change the digital world, but will benefit Africa economically.

According to Machanick, there is a lot of potential for South Africans to participate in the fourth industrial revolution. However, what is missing are the skills to meet demand plus jumping the poverty hurdle. He emphasised, “You do not have to be only a science student to be part of the revolution.”



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