South Africa and the World Economic Forum (WEF) have signed a host government accord to establish an affiliate centre of the WEF's Fourth Industrial Revolution Centre (C4IR).
South Africa will be joining China, India and Japan, who already have the affiliate centre.
The C4IR, which is intended to be launched in September in SA, acts as a hub for global, multi-stakeholder cooperation to develop policy frameworks and advance collaborations that accelerate the benefits of science and technology.
It focuses on issues of local concern and contributes to the overall research and thought leadership processes of the C4IR network.
The South African government, through the Department of Science and Technology, intends to establish its affiliate centre as a public-private partnership based at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).
Science and Technology Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane said the establishment of the South African C4IR affiliate centre will provide a platform for stakeholders in South Africa to work together on the evolution of new technologies.
The Minister said it is no longer possible to discuss economic development without factoring in the impact of the 4IR on the economy as a whole.
"Any effort we make as a country to grow our economy will now largely be shaped by how quickly we are able to embrace and master the technologies associated with the Fourth Industrial Revolution."
Head of the WEF's C4IR Network, Murat Sönmez, urged South Africa to make sure that 4IR technologies benefit all communities, particularly the poor. This, he said, is important as technology in the 4IR environment is advancing rapidly.
"South Africa has the potential to contribute to all these developments in the global network and has a seat on the C4IR advisory board, helping to shape what we are intent on achieving. We are therefore looking forward to hosting this affiliate centre in South Africa," Sönmez said.
The CEO of the CSIR, Dr Thulani Dlamini, said the council was ready to partner with the private and public sectors to develop relevant technologies for 4IR.
He said the CSIR's focus areas for 4IR includes applying technologies for improved service delivery, training the future workforce, and developing and implementing scalable 4IR infrastructure.