The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) Task Force, which has been tasked with conducting a country assessment to determine Namibia’s readiness for 4IR and making recommendations for a coordinated and coherent policy and legislative framework, is expected to submit its report to Cabinet by the end of July 2022.
According to 4IR Task Force Chair, Anicia Peters the assessment has been completed and is ready for submission.
I don’t know when exactly the report will be released to the public but around the end of July we will hand in the final report. However, when those recommendations will be implemented I cannot say as this is something Cabinet decides, we have seen with other various high level panels on the economy that those recommendations are still being implemented, thus we see that the recommendations of whatever report you are tabling have consequences and are not gonna gather dust,’’ she said.
Concerning the report’s relevance, she stated, that it will not be long and that the country must move quickly to capitalise on these technologies as the Fifth Industrial Revolution is approaching fast.
‘’The relevancy of the report is not going to be long and thus we better make haste to sort of try and get the country to benefit from these technologies because there are new ones coming and we are of course going into the fifth industrial revolution then we want to say we didn’t even complete the 4th one,’’ asserted Pieters
She stated that the foundation and basics must be correct, and basics for her include not only infrastructure but also training and capaciting people to acquire the necessary skills in the country for the revolution.
‘’We want to look back at the report and what recommendations were made 40 years from now, and I hope it was building the foundation for that to be robust enough to handle whatever shifts in technology arise, as I believe that is the crux of the matter.
This is a lengthy process, and if you want to automate, you should probably automate in the manufacturing sector. However, as you are automating, someone needs to design, build, operate, and maintain the technology in the same way that you are now using technology to solve that problem,’’ she said.
Furthermore, Pieters stated that the concern about the 4IR reducing the workforce is unsubstantiated because most technologies and subsequent operations will require human labour, and there will be numerous new jobs created.
‘’It takes a long time to build those systems, and while you are building them, you must also ensure that you are upscaling and rescaling. We should take the same approach as Namibians and take our destiny into our own hands, and if we decide to automate, we should also make a conscious decision to educate our own people, maintain those systems, and create new jobs and employ ourselves rather than bringing employment from elsewhere,’’ she said.
This comes after the 4IR Task Force has been working jointly with the World Economic Forum to develop a 4th Industrial Revolution Policy and Legislative Toolkit, for use to ensure Namibia’s policy and legislative instruments are 4IR compliant and “Future-Proof” in the wake of leapfrogging technologies which double in capability and halve in price, on average every 18 months.
Meanwhile, President Hage Geingob has been a passionate advocate for 4IR, asserting that
owing to the pervasive nature of these technologies, Namibia cannot escape from or entirely avoid a digital future, thus people should be placed at the centre of social and economic changes.
The President has also emphasised over the last few years that, in order for technology to be a force for development for all Namibians, it must reach everyone.