Using 4IR to build an inclusive economy

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan has challenged black businesses to think about how they can use the Fourth Industrial Revolution to grow the economy in an inclusive manner.

“We need to respond to, on the one hand, the possibilities that the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) offers, but also respond to the challenge of removing unemployment, poverty and inequality in our society.

“Will it be shaped in a way that the Fourth Industrial Revolution is used for mass enhancement, instead of elite [enhancement]? So we need to reimagine how we think about economics,” said Gordhan.

The Minister made the call at the Black Business Summit convened by the Black Business Council (BBC).

Gordhan’s call was informed by the summit’s theme: ‘Economic transformation within the context of the Fourth Industrial Revolution’.

The two-day summit brings together leaders of business, government and experts on law and land reform to thrash out ideas to prepare black businesses for 4IR.

Engaging delegates, Gordhan said while 4IR presents seemingly limitless opportunities, South Africa must position itself to be at the cusp of these opportunities in order to benefit from them.

“It is important that we become important players in not just responding to what is happening in the world but so that we can become important players in the world,” said the Minister.

This, he said, is particularly difficult in the context of South Africa, which still has to address social injustice.

“We need to ask ourselves what is the relationship between 4IR, inclusivity and social justice, where all human beings have a sense of well-being,” said the Minister.

Gordhan urged delegates to delve into discussion about some of the challenges the revolution will pose for job security as well as its impact on personal security.

Addressing the summit, BBC President Sandile Zungu said while black businesses do not want handouts, they do, however, want to work with government.

“Our members are clear: we want to do business with government,” said Zungu.

Businessman and former President of the BBC, Patrice Motsepe, who also addressed the summit, echoed Zungu’s sentiments.

Motsepe prefaced his address by stating that the country’s transformation goes hand in hand with the success of black business, which begins with support from government.

“The whole world is engaged in discussion about the Fourth Industrial Revolution, but we must be the only country in the world where, when the inhabitants of the country do business with their country, they get castigated.

“Some of the most successful businesses in the world are those who were engaged in business with government,” said Motsepe.

The businessman also urged delegates to strengthen black businesses by not only trading amongst each but also working with white business in a mutually beneficial manner.

“You will not advance the interests of black business in an economy that is 95% white owned if you do not work together with them; but not on their terms and conditions, but as equal partners,” he said.

Day two of the summit will see President Ramaphosa deliver the keynote address at the closing gala dinner on Friday. -