Radical transformation must take digital disruption into account, says Davies
The trade and industry minister says SA needs to re-industrialise because of changes in value chains
Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies says the ANC’s policy of radical economic transformation has to include an understanding that there are currently disruptive changes in the nature of production due to technology.
He told guests at the Progressive Business Forum’s business breakfast at the ANC conference that although SA did not have cutting-edge digital capabilities‚ the country needed to re-industrialise because of changes in value chains.
He said raw materials, which are SA’s economic backbone, would have less value and that was why the economy needed to be diversified.
“Industrial firms will be setting up value chains, whether those value chains are global, whether they are domestic or regional, what you are going to be seeing in the near future is already what is beginning to happen … it will be data management and digital firms that will be at the apex of value chains and manufacturing will be in a subordinate place,” he said.
The shifts would also serve some of the objectives of the ANC’s radical economic policy by lowering the barriers to the entry of small enterprises in industries, said Davies.
The minister addressed a similar theme at the ANC policy conference in June this year, explaining then that if the country failed to adapt in time, the advent of technology and the fourth industrial revolution would lead to greater inequalities.
On Sunday, he told business leaders that the changes would have “huge implications” for workers too.
He said there was a need for workers to acquire post-school education in master digital technologies.
There were already companies in SA that upskilled employees to ensure they could operate robotics, he said.
Davies also turned to the economy, highlighting its weaknesses, including the lack of growth.
He again championed the government’s Black Industrialist Programme, saying the government had received 70 applications from aspirant industrialists while their target was 100.