President Cyril Ramaphosa warned at the University of Johannesburg’s celebration of 25 years of democracy in July that South Africans should brace for mass job losses. This was after a punchy address at the inaugural SA digital economy summit, where a holographic version of the president was broadcast to attendees at the Rustenburg Civic Centre.

As SA navigates the transition to a new industrial revolution, everyone is asking where this leaves the country in terms of its biggest development challenge: creating sustainable work opportunities. The president is right; automation is already leading to the shedding of jobs, mostly in low-skilled services where most South Africans look for work...

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