The much-vaunted fourth industrial revolution has arrived, and SA needs to shape up to its challenges or be left behind as a (relatively) low-wage, low-growth country. So holds the wisdom of the World Economic Forum (WEF) and a growing number of South African politicians and business leaders. SA needs to carve out its niche in service and other high-value industries through technological innovation. For the public sector, policy initiatives need to consider ways to exploit technology for better service delivery and community engagement, and cities are the best place for this to happen. But is local government up to the job of sculpting the "smart cities" that will usher in a new era of economic development? Recent spending cuts and their knock-on effects on infrastructure projects in metros mean cities are unlikely to be leading players in the short to medium term in positioning SA on the frontier of what President Cyril Ramaphosa terms a "digital industrial revolution". In his stat...

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