‘Digital divide will isolate poor South Africans from 4th Industrial Revolution’

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Digital industry leaders are calling for increased access to the Internet across all sectors of society.

Speaking at the IAB Summit19 held at the Johannesburg Theatre, CEO of Project Isizwe, Dudu Mkhwanazi says data has become an essential service for every South African.

She says the high data costs in the country rob the majority of South Africans their right to access and ability to partake in digital economy.

Mkhwanazi says every South African home need to be connected in the next 10 years, otherwise the 4th Industrial Revolution will only benefit the wealthy minority and cause greater inequality.

According to Mkhwanazi, the country’s 7.5 million lower-income earners are paying 80 times more for Internet access than their rich counterparts.  “Only 10% of South African homes have fixed affordable Internet,” she says.

Mkhwanazi believes it’s every South Africa’s responsibility to bridge the digital divide.

A charge supported by Accenture Digital South Africa’s Wayne Hull.

Hull says digital transformation is critical to improve not only businesses but also the lives of South Africans.

“Digital Transformation could change South Africa forever. It could unlock R5 trillion of value in the country in the next decade.”

Hull says coding skills are future jobs.

The man dubbed, Rebel with a Cause and Mkhwanazi  say while it is important for infrastructure to be built to ensure Internet access for all, the public also has a duty to ensure this becomes a reality.

“Digital Transformation will improve health outcomes and create jobs. It must start at an early age with children being taught coding skills even at home,” says Hull.

The head of social media at Joe Public Connect Kalibree Kamore says lack of access is delaying innovation the country could be experiencing.

She was part of a panel discussing how digital companies can balance the power the space offers.

They believe this could be done through ethical leadership, transparency on how consumer data is being used as well as educating customers on the space they are using.

Content manager and diversity advocate, Kirigo Kamore says digital literacy is needed for responsible usage of the power of digital media. She’s hailed government for its role in ensuring this and says brands should also play their part in educating customers on what online privacy means.

“We’ve seen instances where customers have said they want privacy yet expose their children online.”

Brand strategist, Dali Tembo says government should enforce its data policy to keep companies on the straight and narrow.

“Brands should protect their customers. They should be transparent on what they use customer data for. They should also test the security aspect of applications before testing them on users and offenders should be blacklisted.”

Speakers also touched on what the private sector can do to adapt to the digital age as well as create valuable experiences for users. Items showing how digital technologies can change the world were also showcased.










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