Communications and Digital Technologies Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams says collaboration with key industry players will play an important role in enabling South Africa to become globally competitive and relevant in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) era.
Ndabeni-Abrahams made the remarks at the media launch of Toyota Connect in Sandton on Thursday.
Positioned as a global first, Toyota Connect is a collaboration between three of South Africa's leading brands - Toyota, Altron and Vodacom - which will see future Toyota vehicles enabled with Wi-Fi and telematics solution capabilities.
Through its subsidiary, Netstar, Altron designed the technology platform enabling Toyota requirements for Wi-Fi and telematics solutions. The locally developed technology enables connectivity and gives real-time data to both Toyota and its customers.
The data aggregated from the telematics module also provides insights to Toyota, its dealer network, customers, fleet owners and third-party service providers such as the Automobile Association; providing accident and breakdown assistance.
Vodacom is responsible for providing in-vehicle connectivity.
Ndabeni-Abrahams has welcomed the innovation, lauding it as a milestone towards positioning South Africa as globally competitive and relevant in the 4IR era, specifically in the Internet of Things.
"This is indeed a milestone in our journey as South Africa to be positioned as a leader in the 4IR. Further, such initiatives exemplify our departmental mantra which is 'Coordinate, collaborate, and execute 4IR'," Ndabeni-Abrahams said.
She acknowledged the National Association of Automobile Manufacturing of South Africa's keen interest in participating in the Presidential Commission on the 4th Industrial Revolution, and encouraged the association to be involved in the commission's technical work streams.
"Of particular importance is that NAAMSA has presented five key positions that are deemed necessary to create a favourable economic growth environment for electronic vehicles in South Africa. I therefore encourage NAAMSA to be involved in the Commission's technical work streams to ensure that the sector is adequately presented and is enabled to influence policy trajectory," Ndabeni-Abrahams said.
Attaining socio-economic imperatives
South Africa's Industrial Policy Action Plan (IPAP) 2018/19 reflects that the automotive sector contributes 33% to manufacturing Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and about 6% to the overall GDP. The sector also produces approximately 600 000 vehicles and supports 113 000 jobs annually.
Exports have doubled and the industry has seen R45 billion worth of investment flowing in from some of the world's leading global vehicle manufacturers such as Mercedes Benz, Toyota, VW and Isuzu, amongst others.
"These statistics demonstrate the importance of the automotive sector in the advancement of digital global competitiveness and its role in the reduction of unemployment, inequality and rampant poverty levels," the Minister said.
She added that the Department of Trade and Industry, working together with the automotive companies, component suppliers and labour, has also developed an Automotive Masterplan 2020.
"The plan seeks to ensure that South Africa retains and grows its automotive sector, is able to compete with other national jurisdictions for production platforms, grows its exports and secures higher levels of empowerment across sectoral value chains.
"Recently, the Minister of Trade, Industry and Economic Development indicated that the department is engaging with local car manufacturing players in providing support for the import and local production of electric and hybrid vehicles in South Africa," Ndabeni-Abrahams said.