CAPE TOWN, April 9 (Xinhua) -- President Cyril Ramaphosa has appointed a presidential commission to help the government tap the opportunities presented by the digital industrial revolution (DIR), his office said on Tuesday.
The 30-member commission, chaired by the president, will identify relevant policies, strategies and action plans that will position South Africa as a competitive global player, the Presidency said.
In establishing the commission, a public consultation process has been undertaken to attract eminent people who possess relevant skills and knowledge required to drive the DIR, also known as the 4th industrial revolution, said presidential spokesperson Khusela Diko.
These include Tshilidzi Marwala, a professor from the University of Johannesburg, whose expertise spans the theory and application of artificial intelligence to engineering, computer science, finance, social science and medicine, according to Diko.
Operational support to the commission will be provided by a secretariat of officials of various national departments, led by the Department of Communications, Diko said.
"President Ramaphosa has wished the commission well in its endeavors 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," said Diko.
In his State of the Nation Address to a joint sitting of Parliament on Feb. 7 this year, Ramaphosa said South Africa has chosen to be a country of the future at a time when the world is changing at a pace and in a manner that is 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," the president said.
South Africa now ranks between 46th and 75th globally on a variety of metrics measuring "readiness for the 4th industrial revolution," according to the Department of Trade and Industry.
The government envisages that South Africa's position in the context of the DIR should be its access to market opportunities across the African continent. Potential advantages include a broad youth base, a fast-growing continental middle class, access to global value chains as technology suppliers and the chance for small and medium-sized enterprises to capitalize on new technologies.