South Africa: The World Is Flat – COVID-19 Becomes the Driving Force for 4IR

The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the world in many ways. But perhaps the most profound change is the accelerated way in which digital transformation and the move to the Fourth Industrial Revolution have moved at warp speed.

In February 2020 the Presidential Commission on the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR) finalised its recommendations. As it did so an unexpected and terrifying tsunami was gathering on the horizon. On 26 March South Africa went into a national lockdown in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

It is still far too early to understand the ramifications of the pandemic on the country, our economy and institutions. However, one immediate and obvious consequence has been the rapid adoption of digital technology. This is driven by necessity as the world has been catapulted into rapid digital transformation.

Many people are discussing the “new normal” that will emerge beyond the current coronavirus emergency. There seems to be a consensus that we won’t simply return to our old ways of working, at least until a vaccine is available, but possibly forever. New standards for health and safety are emerging that will prioritise social and physical distancing. These standards will permanently influence the nature of the “workplace” and how…


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