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Note to editors: The following excerpt is taken from a speech delivered by Alderman JP Smith, Mayco Member for Safety and Security; and Social Services, at the SA Innovation Summit’s CEO lunch event today. Read more below:

The Fourth Industrial Revolution or Industry 4.0 is creating a buzz globally – We have all heard or read about it, but have we really stopped and thought about the real implications – for yourselves as business and for us as government? What is apparent is that the 4th Industrial Revolution is one of the biggest disrupters of the 21st century. We are standing on the brink of a technological revolution that will fundamentally alter the way we live, work, and relate to one another. In its scale, scope, and complexity, the transformation will be unlike anything humankind has experienced before.

How do we all (governments, business, communities) collectively make this disruptive journey, to make sure Africa takes its rightful place on the global stage? Most of all, how do we ensure that we leave no one behind – we take our residents with us on journey. Let me start by sharing with you what we as the City of Cape Town is doing to meet the disruption of this revolution.

· The City’s Broadband Project aims to create a high-speed, high-capacity municipal telecommunications network, called the ‘Metro Area Network’ (MAN), which will extend throughout the greater Cape Town area. This is designed primarily to meet the needs of the City, as well as provide services to the public and yourselves as business.

· The ‘Telecoms Networks Strategy’ positions the Metro Area Network as the enabler of a ‘digital city’ or ‘smart city’ which is used as the carrier for a number of networks and services.

· The City’s SmartCape programme is an initiative to bridge the digital divide among communities. The City runs a number of digital literacy programmes that incorporate computer basics, coding courses, and LAN gaming, among others.

· The City in partnership with the I-CAN facility piloted a digital and entrepreneurship programme to empower women in the community. As part of the programme, they have learnt how to design their own business cards, flyers and website. The entrepreneurship training that was included has helped them to use technology to drive their business ideas.

Governments write the law on behalf of their people, but I think big business has a responsibility to catalyse the conversation. Business leaders need to get this debate going. Each of your organisations will be affected in the coming years. Becoming more collaborative with regulators and policy makers is one of the priority development areas for executives such as yourselves.

To do this, however, we must develop a comprehensive and globally shared view of how technology is affecting our lives and reshaping our economic, social, cultural, and human environments. In the end, it all comes down to people and values. We need to shape a future that works for all of us by putting people first and empowering them.

It is time to take Africa to the World! It will take courage, vision and ingenuity. The lion is waking up and Africa is rising. As the Captains of business, what are you going to do?

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