SA poised for growth amidst Fourth Industrial Revolution

South Africa and its budding construction sector boasts great opportunity to benefit from the current Fourth Industrial Revolution.

According to entrepreneur Alan Knott-Craig, it is almost as if the Fourth Industrial Revolution was designed for South Africa. Credit: Creative Commons

According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), digital technologies have only recently begun to enter the construction sector, gradually changing how infrastructure, real estate and other built assets are designed, constructed, operated and maintained.

Technologies including building information modelling (BIM), prefabrication, wireless sensors, 3D printing and automated and robotic equipment, are affecting the entire industry. Their economic and social impact could be substantial, given that the construction industry accounts for 6% of global GDP, highlights WEF.

“Players along the construction value chain need to prepare strategically to thrive in the face of anticipated disruption,” notes Michael Burke, chairman and CEO of AECOM and co-chair of the WEF Infrastructure and Urban Development community.

Alan Knott-Craig, former Mxit CEO and founder of non-profit organisation Project Isizwe, if businesses don’t embrace the disruption brought on by this new technological era, they will not survive.

He adds that the first wave of the internet was virtual and people-orientated. “Google, Facebook, Twitter, eBay all exist on the internet without touching the real world. The second wave will mash the virtual and physical world and will connect both people and machines – the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” he says.

Knott-Craig believes that the Fourth Industrial Revolution was designed for South Africa and its people. “It allows us to deal with divisive issues, like race and geography, and help ensure the economy prospers and we have a brighter future.

“It’s happening. There’s nothing we can do about it. We have a decision to make- do we want to be washed over by the wave, or do we want to build a surfboard, and ride it?”, he states.

How the Fourth Industrial Revolution will change South Africa:

  • Less friction – more productivity
  • Lower marginal costs – deflation
  • More transparency – better behaviour
  • Speedier economic growth – more jobs
  • Better politics – better presidents
  • Safer cities – safer citizens
  • Better classrooms – better educations