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Embrace the fourth industrial revolution seminar told

Embracing the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) as local government and understanding its impact on service delivery was the focal point of discussion at a breakfast seminar held at the Moses Mabhida Stadium on 5 September.

The event was held under the theme “The Fourth Industrial Revolution: the changes, the trends and the implications” and was hosted by the Municipal Institute of Learning. Delivering the opening address, Head of the eThekwini Municipal Academy Dr Mpilo Ngubane thanked officials and stakeholders for attending the event. He said there was no turning back as “we are in the 4IR and have to embrace it.”

“We stand on the brink of a technological revolution that will change our lives and how we work and relate to one another. The transformation will be unlike anything human kind has seen before. Therefore, our response must be comprehensive and integrated involving all stakeholders.”

Ngubane spoke about the opportunities available within 4IR and how the workforce will need to upskill themselves as a critical thinking and innovative workforce is needed.

Nissar Mohamed, Sector Manager at Trade and Industry KwaZulu-Natal delivered an address on 4IR: Implications and Opportunities.

He stressed that 4IR was not going to happen but is already happening. “It is now up to us how we are going to utilise it. We tend to look at it as one thing, artificial intelligence but it is a combination of things including drones, self-driving vehicles, smart cities etc.”

He said robotics, advanced life sciences, the internet of things, electric vehicles, renewable energy and artificial intelligence will dominate the 4IR landscape in the next few years.

Mohammed provided practical examples of innovation being used locally as well as touching on speculation of the proposed negative impact 4IR will have on jobs and skills. He said 65 percent of children who entered school in 2017 will have occupations in 12 years’ time that currently don’t exist. He also touched on 4IR in Africa. “As eThekwini Municipality, your continued survival, may mean that your vision and mission has to change as the world changes around you,” he said.

Dr Collin Thakur from the Durban University of Technology spoke on operationalising 4IR: From the podium to the people providing practical and relatable examples.

This was followed by the Practical Elements of 4IR which was presented by Aurelia Albert, CEO of Innovate Durban and Steve Gray from The Maker Space.

Gray controlled a drone that flew around the meeting room taking pictures of attendees while explaining the possible use of drones. He also spoke on 3D printing and the power it is capable of. He used his phone to draw a 3D image of an attendee on screen in real time. “I can email myself the image and send it to the 3D printer to print a small image of her head,” he told the impressed audience.

“The 4IR for us is all about making things. For the Municipality, the success will be about innovation coming from within. You don’t have to hire experts, but enable employees to come up with their own solutions. Also, the 4IT is not about buying new gadgets to use,” he said.

Concluding the seminar was Deputy Head of Economic Development Ajiv Maharaj who facilitated a brief interactive discussion. Head of the eThekwini Transport Authority Thami Manyathi said we should stop being consumers of things but rather innovators as the City.

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