President Cyril Ramaphosa has formed a Presidential Commission on the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) to assist government in taking advantage of the opportunities presented by the digital industrial revolution.

Chaired by the president, the commission is tasked with identifying relevant policies, strategies and action plans that will position South Africa as a competitive global player.

A country of the future

In his State of the Nation Address to a Joint Sitting of Parliament earlier this year, Ramaphosa said that 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.

“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,” he said, noting that revolutionary advances in technology are reshaping the way people work and live.

In the same address, Ramaphosa 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 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 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.

Operational support to the commission will be provided by a secretariat of officials of various national departments, led by the Department of Communications.

Ramaphosa has wished the commission well in its endeavours and has 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.

The commissioners

• Prof Tshilidzi Marwala (Deputy Chair)
• Prof Chris Michael Adendorff
• Ms Beth Arendse
• Mr Thulani Humphrey Dlamini
• Mr Abdul Razak Esakjee
• Dr Bernard Lewis Fanaroff
• Mr Michael Gastrow
• Mr Xolile Christopher George
• Ms Charmaine Houvet
• Dr Prince Senyukelo Jaca
• Mr Tervern Liaan John Jaftha
• Mr Mohamed Shameel Joosub
• Ms Marinda Kellerman
• Ms Nomso Kana
• Mr Baxolile Mabinya
• Mr Rendani Mamphiswana
• Ms Lindiwe Matlali
• Mr Calvo Mawela
• Ms Busisiwe Mbuyisa
• Ms Nomvula Mkhonza
• Mr Vukani Mngxati
• Mr Joseph Ndaba
• Mr Andile Ngcaba
• Dr Nompumelelo Happworth Obokoh
• Mr Rendani Praise Ramabulana
• Mr Leon Desmond Rolls
• Dr Sibongiseni Thotsejane
• Mr Gerhard van Deventer
• Mr Ben Venter, and
• Ms S’onqoba Vuba