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Opinion: The 4th Industrial Revolution and interrelated opportunities

2021-08-02  Staff Reporter

Opinion: The 4th Industrial Revolution and interrelated opportunities
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The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) represents a new era of innovation in technology that enhance human-machine relationships, unlock new market opportunities, and fuel growth across the global economy. 

President Hage Geingob recently appointed an eight-member task force to prepare the country for this 4IR. 

 The 4IR is a fundamental shift in the way that technology, communications, data, and analytics impact almost all aspects of society and the economy. In the Vision 2030 document, Founding President Sam Nujoma stated that the national vision is a perception of the future. 

It is vitally important that the 4IR should be aligned to Namibia Vision 2030 to enhance knowledge and address the gaps of inequality. Task Force for 4IR should align with the Harambee Prosperity Plan II (2021-2025) pillars.

 The government realises that these emerging technologies are on the rise and they are interested in exploring what these technologies mean for the future of the country. 

The 4IR will mark significant changes in both the physical and digital worlds, which will create untold promise for the future of society, as well as potential problems for the workforce. This industrial revolution is finding ways to positively impact the lives of others through leveraging new technologies.

 Professor Anicia Peters asserts; “4IR is changing the world in how we work, live, play and learn.” New jobs will be created, but these require rapid reskilling and upskilling. Artificial intelligence is expected to control the way we manufacture and amongst others. Automation will impact a large number of jobs, which has given rise to concerns about whether there will be enough jobs for workers. 

Historically, new technologies have created both large employment shifts but also new jobs. If the economy continues to grow, and business leaders continue to invest, then there can be enough new job creation to offset the impact of automation. The biggest challenge the 4IR presents is figuring out how to retrain employees who have skills, which have already been automated. 

Public private partnership in the 4IR is critical. 

This improved access to digital technologies in Namibia is enabling its citizens and to compete in the growing digital world market. Technological discoveries will produce exponential disruptions in markets and business. The rapid adoption of robots, artificial intelligence, and global collaboration will renew our thinking about work. The 4IR will force organisations to adapt and reinvent themselves more quickly. 

Meanwhile, the workforce faces the risk of job losses and skill obsolescence, requiring that they adapt and reinvent themselves. No longer will companies be places containing employees doing work. Traditional employment, which came about in the 2nd industrial revolution, is already a dying model. 

The upshot of this technological empowerment is work and Jobs are being transformed. However, similar fears were voiced about the internet, fears that were unfounded as one study by News Online concluded that for every job lost to the internet, 2.7 jobs were created. 

 New educational programmes should teach people about the technologies, which will disrupt their industry, and how they work. Workers need to learn about how to develop the emotional intelligence necessary to work well with these new technologies. The 4IR is coming. It will require us to rethink.  Companies have a key role to play in preparing employees for this change, which will include investing in retraining and upskilling programmes, and analysing how the workforce should prepare for new jobs. Time will move exponentially, not linearly.

 Automation of assembly line at warp speeds. Robotics and automation will perform repetitive jobs. Some futurists are predicting that factories will be smaller, more agile. Scale will give way to customisation at a mass production speed. 

Privacy of an individual is not at all totally private in this era of 4IR due to the grace of technological advancements in tracking system. 

Human skills are becoming invaluable in front of artificial intelligence.Machines are more favoured than human beings. Contrary to the above, gradual evolution of technologies and scientific innovations are leading to the creation of new educational disciplines, which is, finally leading to more scopes for better opportunities. 

4IR is enhancing the facilities for the development as well as innovation of new skills. The World is becoming a global village, where billions of people, as well as products, are easily accessible. No need of standing on the road and waiting for transportations. 

People can book cars or vehicles online and avail them at their doorsteps. Online jobs provide people to work from and earn at home. Namibian economies and businesses are not immune to the risks posed by the 4IR and its effects are increasingly being felt by companies, employees and political systems. The 4IR technologies will become a sign of hope in Namibia’s social and developmental challenges. 

 In summary, it offers the opportunity for transformation, growth, and improvement, for governments, organisations, and professionals. The 4IR is a solution and tool to be harnessed, so that the future of work is one that’s inclusive and beneficial for all.


*The opinions expressed in the article are that of the author alone and are in no way linked to his employer or any affiliates.

2021-08-02  Staff Reporter

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