Harnessing the 4th Industrial revolution to advance the SDGs in Africa

Moderator:
Prof Stephanie Burton
Panellists:
Mr Chris Akiwumi
Mr Msingathi Sipuka
Prof Brian Armstrong
Prof Nelishia Pillay

Mr Chris Akiwumi

Mr Akiwumi is the Director, Government and Regulatory Affairs, for the Middle East and Africa (MEA) for Microsoft. The role entails leading a team of Corporate Affairs professionals across MEA, driving strategy, developing campaigns and leading engagement with policy makers, government elites, regulators, academics and think tanks. He is a seasoned Legal, Government and Regulatory Affairs Executive with Human Resource expertise, with over 15 years experience across MEA. He has experience in leadership, strategic planning, execution and a proven track record in Policy and Regulatory advocacy spanning MEA. Results orientated, courageous, and motivated.

Mr Msingathi Sipuka

Mr Sipuka has extensive private and public-sector experience within South Africa. His private sector experience has mainly been in the banking and FMCG sectors, having worked for First National Bank (FNB) and South African Breweries. At FNB he held the positions of Provincial Transformation Manager and later Provincial Knowledge Manager for the Eastern Cape. In the public sector his experience is mainly in local government, in the areas of institutional planning and institutional performance, monitoring and evaluation.

Mr Sipuka is currently in the employment of the United Nations, where he works as a National Sustainable Development Goals Advisor for South Africa. He is overall responsible for the mainstreaming of the SDGs in South Africa and supporting government, civil society, labour and private sector SDG initiatives.

Over the years Msingathi has also been involved in academia as a part-time lecturer at the Nelson Mandela University. He lectures part-time in the MA Development Studies and MPhil Development Finance at the Nelson Mandela University.

He holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree majoring in Economics from the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU). He holds Masters Degrees in ‘South African Politics and Political Economy’ and ‘Development Finance’, both attained through the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University. He is currently enrolled with the Nelson Mandela University for his PhHD in Development Finance, with his research focusing on industrialisation and industrial strategy.

Prof Brian Armstrong

Prof. Brian Armstrong is one of the foremost ICT industry leaders in South Africa, with over 30 years of top level management experience in Telecommunications, IT, technology R&D and systems engineering, both in South Africa and abroad. He is widely regarded as a thought leader in digitalisation, convergence and business strategy.

Brian is currently Professor in the Chair of Digital Business at the Wits Business School. His focus here is on building a comprehensive knowledge base on Digital Business, and developing more scientifically rigorous models for core concepts in digitalisation. He consults widely to government and industry on these topics and is an acclaimed public speaker on digital transformation and its socio-economic impacts.

Previously Brian spent seven years in Telkom, as Group Chief Operating Officer and Group Chief Commercial Officer, and at BT as Vice President for Middle East and Africa. He also spent time in South African listed ICT services group AST (now Gijima), as Managing Director of AST Networks, and with South Africa’s CSIR, ultimately as the Director of the Division for Information and Communications Technology.

Brian completed his BSc (Eng) and MSc (Eng) at the University of the Witwatersrand in 1982 and 1984 respectively, and obtained his PhD from University College London in 1992.

Prof Nelishia Pillay

Nelishia Pillay is a Professor and Head of Department of Computer Science at the University of Pretoria. She is chair of the IEEE Task Force on Hyper-Heuristics with the Technical Committee of Intelligent Systems and Applications at IEEE Computational Intelligence Society and holds the Multichoice Joint-Chair in Machine Learning. Her research areas include hyper-heuristics, combinatorial optimization, genetic programming, genetic algorithms and other biologically-inspired methods. She has published in these areas in journals, national and international conference proceedings. She has served on program committees for numerous national and international conferences and is a reviewer for various international journals. She is an active researcher in field of evolutionary algorithm hyper-heuristics and the application thereof to optimization problems and automated design. This is one of the focus areas of the NICOG (Nature-Inspired Computing Optimization) research group which she has established.

Optimization problems and automated design. This is one of the focus areas of the NICOG (Nature-Inspired Computing Optimization) research group which she has established.

Prof Stephanie Burton

Professor Stephanie Burton is Vice-Principal for Research and Postgraduate Education at the University of Pretoria, having been appointed in 2011.  She holds an MSc in Organic Chemistry (1990) and a PhD in Biochemistry (1994) from Rhodes University.  Professor Burton has lectured in Biochemistry and Biotechnology at Rhodes University, and was Professor in Chemical Engineering at the University of Cape Town, and served as Director of Postgraduate Studies and Director of the Biocatalysis and Technical Biology Research Group at Cape Peninsula University of Technology.  She is now appointed as Professor in Biochemistry at the University of Pretoria.  Her research interests are in the field of applied biochemistry and biotechnology. She holds an NRF B rating, has published extensively, and holds several patents.  She has supervised over 30 postgraduate students and is on the Editorial Board of three international journals in her field.  She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of South Africa and a member of the Council of Academy of Science of South Africa.

The rapidly advancing wave of digitalization and cyber-technology known as the Fourth Industrial Revolution presents an enormous and significant opportunity for Africa. This comes at a key moment where rapid progress towards 21st-century digitization – and all the associated technological intersections and convergences – is becoming possible on the continent.

Africa is thought to be uniquely positioned to leapfrog the developmental trajectory required to take advantage of this opportunity. How can this be achieved in a way that hastens progress to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on the continent, rather than leave many of Africa’s people behind and disempowered? What policies and actions are needed to unlock the potential of the digital transformation of the financial, health, agricultural, education and other sectors of the African society?

This session will explore the landscape of change, its challenges and opportunities from an African perspective, and then explore what priority developments, capacities, alliances and policies are needed to ensure a positive outcome for the continent and its people. The session will address how new technologies and the data generated through it, can provide currently lacking data on African trajectories of change. It will also consider how advances in, for example, artificial intelligence can help to integrate diverse knowledge sources.

2018-11-23T06:32:46+00:00