Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution South Africa

Launching and getting started as part of the global pilot to enable small businesses to maximise the adoption of digital technologies (including IoT)

The C4IR SA has confirmed its intention to WEF to be part of the global pilot on “facilitating technology capacity-building of small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) in an increasingly digital world”. The WEF will make a formal announcement of participating countries on 28 October 2020.

The C4IR SA is pleased to be part of this global effort, alongside Brazil, Colombia and Turkey.

The case of Brazil 

“Our platform joined forces with the Government of Brazil to develop new policy tools to ease the adoption of industrial IoT technologies by SMEs in the manufacturing sector. Policies were piloted with 130 companies in Sao Paolo and are now being scaled to support 2 000 companies across Brazil. The WEF C4IR Network is also working with industry leaders and policy-makers around the world to adapt the findings from Brazil to their own context”.

Brazil has taken a lead in respect of this initiative, and their experience will provide lessons to other participating countries and C4IRs. See Box 2 below:

In line with best practice in launching and implementing the C4IR projects, there will be effort to build a project community to drive this global pilot. In Table 1 below, we summarise the key role-players and their responsibilities as part of the project community for this pilot project.

Table 1: Proposed C4IR SA pilot project communities

Project community role-playerProposed specific role-players for this pilotResponsibilities
C4IR SA TeamC4IR SA Head (appointment is being finalised); Pilot Project Lead (to be seconded from a collaborating partner organisation); and Project Facilitator (to be confirmed, negotiations underway).  C4IR SA Team will lead the project on a day-to-day basis. They are responsible for the delivery of the final products and engagement of partners at all levels.   The Project Facilitator will facilitate the training and provision of support to the SMME participants. They will ensure the transfer of lessons from the Brazilian experience to South Africa.
Core Community  These are the 5 to 10 most engaged partners to the project.   The C4IR SA has obtained, in principle, commitment to participate from the Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA) 4IR Incubator, Black Umbrella and Black Business Council.   Engagements are planned with the Department of Small Business Development, DSI, Department of Communications and Digital Technologies, SEDA, Small Enterprise Finance Agency (SEFA) and/or a Bank and other organised formations supporting SMMEs.  The Core Community will be actively involved in scoping the pilot project, including the identification of participating SMMEs; and will shape the implementation of the project, as well as the quality of the project outcomes. These partners will also commit to implementing the outputs of the project.
Project/platform communityThis will comprise an estimated 20+ partners and key stakeholders.   These partners and stakeholders will be identified during the initiation and scoping stages.    They will provide feedback on early outcomes of the pilot project and are typically interested in participating in parallel pilots or scaling learnings; and can comprise thought leaders and experts from the wider Forum network and local Knowledge Partners invited to join the platform to share expertise and potentially support project activities.

 Immediate actions

The following are key and immediate actions to be undertaken as part of the initiation of South Africa’s participation in the global pilot:

  1. Finalise the appointment of the C4IR SA Head;
  2. Finalise engagements and secure commitment and support of the Department of Small Business Development, SEDA, SEFA and/ or other sponsoring partners;
  3. Secure commitment of a member of the Core Community to second a Project Lead to the C4IR SA;
  4. Engage and secure the commitment of the Facilitator partner;
  5. Engage and secure commitment of other Core Community members; and

Convene a project-planning workshop with the C4IR SA team and Core Community members who have committed to participate.