The National Planning Commission has called for comment on a draft report titled ‘Digital futures: South Africa’s readiness for the Fourth Industrial Revolution’. The report, authored by Research ICT Africa and the Nelson Mandela School of Public Governance at the University of Cape Town, reviews the National Development Plan (NDP) in terms of South Africa’s readiness for the Fourth Industrial Revolution and assesses any course correction required for planning the digital future.
As noted in the report, while the advanced technologies of artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotics and blockchain do have development potential, this gives rise to a concern that the unevenness of digital development in South Africa will intensify in the absence of policy interventions that redress the underlying structural inequalities in the economy and society. Accordingly, the report calls for strategies to enable greater digital inclusion while acknowledging potential harms from the misuse and abuse of the internet. In doing so, the report seeks to mitigate the risks associated with vast numbers of people coming online for the first time.
The report further proposes a policy approach that is more citizen-centred, with an emphasis on human development as the key strategic asset in the digital era. In line with the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996, this approach is aimed at reducing inequality and enabling the exercise of people’s rights online, in order to achieve greater social and economic inclusion.
The deadline for comments is 27 July 2020 and should be emailed to Mr Ashraf Kariem at [email protected].
The draft report is accessible here.
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