The 4IRSA Partnership (derived from a “Partnership for the 4th Industrial Revolution in South Africa”) is an alliance between the Department Of Telecommunications & Postal Services (DTPS), Telkom, and the Universities of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg and Fort Hare.

Its purpose is to stimulate and facilitate an inclusive national dialogue to shape a coherent national response to the 4th Industrial Revolution in South Africa1. It aims to complement and support other national activities relating to the 4th IR, most notably the Presidential Commission on the 4th IR.

The 4IRSA Partnership recognises that there are several 4IR-related processes and dialogues underway in South Africa: in Government, Industry, academia and society at large.

However, these are, in the main, fragmented, eclectic and divergent, and indeed there is a high level of unawareness of each other between these processes. The 4IRSA Partnership aims to provide a platform for all these processes and stimulate shared conversations, so that they become mutually visible, thereby facilitating progressive coherence between them, moving from fragmented divergence towards complementarity.

The 4IRSA Partnership also recognises that many of the debates relating to the 4th IR are insufficiently fact-based, and frequently anecdotal and emotional. Hence, underpinned by the participation of the Universities, the partnership aspires to provide a foundation of research, a fact-base, rooted in the South African context, around which the complex discourses of a response to the 4th IR can develop.

The 4IRSA Partnership is committed to an inclusive process: the 4th IR will impact every part of the economy and society, and hence all constituencies need to be part of the dialogue and of formulating South Africa’s response. Specifically, the 4IRSA Partnership process will seek active participation from:

  • Government
  • Industry
  • Small Business
  • Labour
  • Academia
  • Civil Society
  • NGOs
  • International Organisations
  • Media

The 4IRSA Partnership is committed to helping to shape a coherent national response to the 4th IR in South Africa. It has to be coherent, so that the manifold and diverse elements of the response, executed by diverse role-players, are mutually supportive, complementary and non-duplicative. Coherence requires that it therefore has to be a national response, failing which the response will be incomplete, and given the interconnectedness of impacts of the 4th IR, unlikely to achieve positive sustainable outcomes. And finally it needs to be a response, not merely a plan. The plan needs to be put into action, with progress and outcomes measured against the plan; the emphasis is on action, not just ideation.