The 4IRSA partnership was founded in June 2018 in response to a public call to action by the CEO of Telkom Group. A steering committee comprising the Vice Chancellors of Universities and senior representatives of each of the five partners meets regularly to shape the agenda and framework.

An Operational Committee (OpCo) has been established to give effect to the 4IRSA Partnership strategy and objectives. Additional participation is being encouraged: Deloitte have come forward to support the activities of the OpCo (and indeed contribute inputs to the Steering Committee) and discussions with CSIR and HSRC are planned to explore their participation in the process.

A Public Sector Workshop was held on 16th November to surface different initiatives in various government departments and state institutions and explore feasibility, desirability and mechanisms for aligning these. Participants included senior representatives from DTPS, DST, DTI, DPA, SARB, CSIR, HSRC, Innovation Hub, WEF and the 4IRSA Partnership. The workshop concluded with high levels of engagement and willingness to share processes more widely and seek better coherence between the various parties’ 4IR initiatives.

Five Industry Workshops are scheduled for January to early March:

a. ICT Sector workshop, including fixed and wireless telecoms operators; IT systems integrators and service providers; industry associations; OEMs; global digital companies and OTTs; local entrepreneurs; the regulator, and the Department of Communications, Telecommunications and Postal Services.

b. Heavy Industry, Mining & infrastructure “ecosystem” workshop, including mining, mineral beneficiation and processing; energy; bulk transport, and ancillary services.

c. Agriculture, foodstuffs and health products “ecosystem” workshop, including: agriculture; food and beverages manufacturing and distribution; water; and related wholesale and retail services.

d. Financial and Business Services Workshop, including: Banking, Insurance; real estate services; Legal, accounting and other professional services; general business services; and related wholesale and intermediation services.

e. Manufacturing “ecosystem” Workshop, including: manufacturing (metal products, machinery and appliances, precision goods and professional equipment; transport equipment; furniture; apparel), related distribution, related wholesale and retail trade, R&D, and related engineering and technical activities.

The objective of these workshops is to:

a. Expose different collective 4IR-related activities within the sector.

b. Share the 4IRSA partnership framework, process and aspirations.

c. Explore sectoral disruption narratives to develop shared insight into modes of disruption and possible industry impacts.

d. Initiate dialogue and get first level inputs on our five themes, with specific reference to sector-specific issues.

e. Discuss follow up work and Roadmap to Summit of Principles.

During this period Labour will also be engaged, with similar objectives. Representations from other stakeholder groupings will also be welcomed.

A Summit of Principles (SOP) is scheduled for 29 and 30 March 2019 (to be confirmed). This will include representatives of all of the above industries, related government departments, labour and other stakeholders. The objectives of the Summit of Principles are: to build alignment, participation and momentum for the 4IRSA process; share sector workshop outputs; agree on key areas for further research and deliberation; and agree on a framework for further action and the roadmap towards the Summit of Declarations.

The Summit of Declarations is anticipated to be held in the 4th quarter of 2019. The objective of the Summit of Declarations are: to consolidate all workstream reports into a comprehensive national response; for all stakeholders of each sector represented to table and commit to a short, medium and long term response by that sector to the 4th IR, in the form of a declaration for that sector; to agree monitoring and evaluation mechanisms; to agree further areas of dialogue and research.