Original Research

A framework to test South Africa’s readiness for the fourth industrial revolution

Olutoyin O. Olaitan, Moshood Issah, Ntombovuyo Wayi
SA Journal of Information Management | Vol 23, No 1 | a1284 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajim.v23i1.1284 | © 2021 Olutoyin O. Olaitan, Moshood Issah, Ntombovuyo Wayi | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 06 July 2020 | Published: 18 May 2021

About the author(s)

Olutoyin O. Olaitan, Department of Applied Informatics and Mathematical Sciences, Faculty of Science, Engineering and Technology, Walter Sisulu University, East London, South Africa
Moshood Issah, Department of Sociology, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Ilorin, Kwara State, Nigeria
Ntombovuyo Wayi, Department of Information Systems, Faculty of Management and Commerce, University of Fort Hare, East London, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: The fourth industrial revolution (4IR) is being touted as having the capacity to lift South Africa out of the challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequitable distribution of wealth. However, the state of the country’s readiness for the enabling technologies of the 4IR is in question.

Objective: This article sought to investigate South Africa’s state of readiness for the technologies that enable the 4IR. The article proposed a framework which can be used to measure the country’s level of preparedness and implement the necessary processes to move the country into the 4IR era.

Method: A detailed analysis of literature was carried out on the current and futuristic technologies employed by developed countries as they moved towards the 4IR. The fit – viability and the task – technology theories were employed to propose a framework to government for measuring its state of readiness for the 4IR in South Africa.

Results: Based on findings from the literature study, the article proposed the 4IR readiness framework for government to measure and subsequently plans its response to the advent of 4IR technologies in the country.

Conclusion: The framework revealed that South Africa has low technological capability, plummeting economic complexity and a fall in digital technological readiness. There is also a dearth of skilled workforce and technological infrastructure. It was recommended that government should focus on building and strengthening the resilience of both public and private institutions, investment in relevant 4IR education, infrastructural improvement, and promulgation and enforcement of legal framework to ensure security and privacy of data.


Keywords

4IR; task – technology; fit – viability; digital technology readiness; economic complexity

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