Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution South Africa

Partnering with us


“The fourth industrial revolution represents a fundamental change in the way we live, work and relate to one another. It is a new chapter in human development, enabled by extraordinary technology advances commensurate with those of the first, second and third industrial revolutions. These advances are merging the physical, digital and biological worlds in ways that create both huge promise and potential peril … The real opportunity is to look beyond technology and find ways to give the greatest number of people the ability to positively impact their families, organisations and communities.” [ World Economic Forum, 2018 ]

The CSIR, at the request of the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI), is hosting the South African Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (C4IR SA), an Affiliate Centre of the WEF’s C4IRs, on behalf of the South African government and with support from the Presidency.

In April 2019, South Africa signed an accord with the WEF through the DSI. The CSIR also signedan Affiliation and Collaboration Agreement, and a Licensing Agreement with the WEF in October 2019. The signing of these agreements effectively formalised South Africa’s membership as a WEF Affiliate C4IR. As a result, the South African Affiliate Centre enjoys the following privileges as a member of the global C4IR Network:

  • Early exposure to new policy protocols and frameworks developed and tested by the C4IR Network;
  • Recognition that the Centre’s activities are “in collaboration with the WEF”;
  • Participation in select project workshops and other C4IR Network meetings relevant to the local Centre’s project platforms;
  • Participation in and the ability to co-design sessions at the Forum’s Global Technology Governance Summit;
  • Eligibility to join C4IR Network’s Global Councils and the Centre Advisory Board; and
  • Access to the Forum’s Strategic Intelligence Platform, including TopLink and Transformation Maps.

The C4IR SA will play a central role in the implementation of the 4IR country strategy that has been developed through the Presidential Commission for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The Centre’s activities focus on the policy, and regulatory and governance environment necessary for the implementation of the emerging technologies. The Centre will also provide a means for interaction with relevant public and private sector stakeholders, both locally and internationally. The WEF C4IR Affiliate Centres are intended to be public-private partnerships, facilitated by government, but with strong buy-in from relevant private and public sector partners. This will allow for fast tracking of national development in this space through access to learning from other regions globally (through the C4IR Network), that are grappling with many of the same issues around the adoption of new and advancing technologies for public good and national growth

Partnering with the South African Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution

The strength of the C4IR-SA lies in multi-stakeholder-driven co-development of frameworks and policies. Participants in policy and framework development and piloting will be drawn from a broad spectrum, including government, the private sector and civil society participants with a vested interest in the ethical, sustainable and responsible implementation of technologies that have both economic and societal benefit for the country, region and ultimately the continent.

Tier 1 – Core Members

Core Members will have a broad interest in the development of technology governance frameworks across all priority areas of C4IR-SA. They will form the C4IR-SA Governance Board, which will promote, inspire, guide and monitor the activities of the Centre. Furthermore, they will have the option to actively participate in the co-development of technology governance frameworks or policies and will have access to the results of projects prior to public dissemination.

Tier 2 – Project Partners

Project Partners are parties with specific interest in one or more of the priority areas in the C4IR-SA and the associated projects in that portfolio. They are required for the practical knowledge of the implementation and necessary governance of a particular technology or group of technologies. Moreover, they will have the option to sit on the Advisory Committees for their respective priority areas, which will guide and monitor the development of the portfolio and its projects. They will also be encouraged to actively participate in the co-development of technology governance frameworks and, specifically, to facilitate the piloting of frameworks and policies.

Tier 3 – Knowledge Partners

Knowledge Partners will be drawn from academia, government, small business and civil society groups relevant to individual priority areas in the C4IR-SA. They will be called upon to provide information (academic, industrial or social) relevant to a particular project or priority area as a whole. Additionally, they will be invited to participate in working groups on projects, as well as broader discussions facilitated by the Centre.

All partners will be requested to facilitate the operations and activities of the Centre through in-kind and/or financial contribution, the latter being in the form of membership fees. These fees are required for the day-to-day running of the C4IR-SA and affiliation with the C4IR Global Network. The membership fee can decrease in subsequent years, depending on the number of partners. In return, partners will benefit from early access to rules and guidelines for the application technology in the region. All formal partners of the South African C4IR (through C4IR-SA staff) will have access to the Forum’s global platform of experts across regions and industry sectors, including the C4IR Network’s Project Communities and Global 4IR Councils, to share learnings and insights on emerging technologies. Additional benefits for the various partnership levels are further described below.

Partnership models and benefits

Option to send FellowsYRequest to send a Fellow for each project under the platform that has been selected as an engagement pointX
Projects led/participated inOption to request participation in any project under the platformOption to request participation in each project under the platform that has been selected as an engagement pointWill be invited to participate in projects at the discretion of the Centre
Participation in select Centre workshops and meetingsYYY
Option to send Fellows to any Centre in the C4IR NetworkXXX
Participation in select C4IR Network Centre workshops and meetingsFacilitated participation through C4IR-SAFacilitated participation through C4IR-SAX
Access to World Economic Forum (WEF) Strategic Insights platformLimited licences will be available to Core MembersAccess through C4IR-SA staffAccess through C4IR-SA staff
Access to WEF global panel of experts (Toplink)Limited licences will be available to Core MembersAccess through C4IR-SA staffAccess through C4IR-SA staff
Participation in Southern African Technology Governance ForumYYY
Participation in Global Technology Summita (limited availability and subject to C4IR approval)XX
Participation in restricted workshops and eventsa (First preference)a (Second preference)a (By invite)
Membership feeR2 000 000 (Annual)R500 000 per area of engagement (Limited to two areas)R75 000 (Annual)
In-kind contributionsMaximum of 20% of membership fee. (Centre-related man-hours excluded)Maximum of 20% of membership fee. (Centre-related man-hours excluded)Negotiable: man-hours, consultancy, funding technology pilots etc.

The technological advances in the fourth industrial revolution, inevitably, have both merits and risks. The extent to which the benefits are maximised and the risks mitigated depends on the quality of governance protocols – policies, regulations, norms, standards and incentives that shape the development and deployment of technologies. Governance must be stable, interoperable, predictable and transparent enough to build confidence among investors, companies, scientists and the general public, but also agile enough to remain relevant in the face of rapid advances in technology.

South Africa’s adoption of transformative technologies should be in the form of a unique model, strategy and objectives, informed by South Africa’s socioeconomic imperatives, and shaped by South Africa’s unique contexts and circumstances as a developing economy. Due to the globalised nature of the economy and digital transformation, South Africa and Africa as a whole will need to actively collaborate both internally and externally in order to remain competitive.

The South African Presidency, through the Department of Science and innovation has established a Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (C4IR-SA) to lead the process of developing quality governance protocols that aim to maximise the benefits of the South African economy. The C4IR-SA is managed and operated by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. It is affiliated to the World Economic Forum’s Fourth Industrial Revolution Network (C4IR Global Network) to tap into the expertise available within the C4IR Global Network.

The C4IR Network’s vision is to help shape the development and application of emerging technologies for the benefit of humanity. The C4IR Network’s mission is to co-design, test and refine governance protocols and policy frameworks to maximise the benefits and minimise the risks of advanced science and technology.