7 October 2021

TUT expert speaks at 2021 National Skills Conference

Prof Pius Owolawi, Head of the Department Computer Systems Engineering represented the Tshwane University of Technology at the recent 2021 National Skills Conference. The focus of the conference was geared towards promoting innovation and digitalization in the skills development ecosystem and contributing towards a responsive future of inclusive growth, aimed at combating the scourge of high levels of unemployment in the country. The skills conference also highlighted the functions of the Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs) which are central to the implementation of the National Skills Development Plan (NSDP) 2030.

He shared the stage with high-ranking government officials including Dr Charles Nwaila, Chairperson of National Skills Authority; Dr Bonginkosi Nzimande, Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation; David Mabuza, Deputy President of South Africa; Mr Philemon Mapulane, Deputy Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies; and Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs.

Prof Pius’s presentation focused on promoting high-impact and cutting-edge technological occupations for current and future industries from an African perspective. He elaborated on technology evolutions through an African lens, and how to jump start Africa using the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) formula, while highlighting Asia’s technology formula.

According to him Africa is a special continent in the context of land, people, and natural resources, but lack sufficient processing capability, which is a function of knowledge - and digital-based economy. He said one of the strengths of Africa is its huge land mass area. He considers Africa as being fortunate in having this tremendous resource, yet so many Africans still remain hungry. He added that Africa has an estimated land space of 30.5 million square kilometer area, which means Africa has substantial land that can accommodate the entire Europe, the USA and China combined, yet the aforementioned are still major food donors to Africa.

He added that Africa has a human population of about 1.38 billion, of which almost 60% are under the age of 25; this means that they are able to actively participate in the labor market. Highlighting the significant amount of natural resources that Africa has, he outlined that Africa has 60% of arable land, 90% raw material reserves, 40% worth of gold reserves, 33% of diamond reserves, 95% of platinum reserves; the largest manganese, iron, wood, uranium, cooper, crude oil reserves reside in Africa, yet “Africa is still poor,” said Prof Owolawi.

“We don’t benef optimally from the endowed resources that reside in Africa, and this is something we have to change,” he said. He added that there are two things that will change this, one being the knowledge economy and the other being the digital economy.

Prof Pius said that Africa should make use of the opportunities brought about by the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) in order to transcend and encouraged the continent to consider the Asia technology formula. He also added that what makes the 4IR unique is the fusion of technology in the physical, digital, and biological form.

According to him, the following technologies are most likely to be adopted by 2025:

  • Cloud Computing
  • Big data analytics
  • Internet of things and connected devices
  • Encryption and cybersecurity
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Text, image and voice processing
  • E-commerce and digital trade
  • Robotics
  • Augmented and virtual reality
  • Distributed ledger technology
  • 3D and 4D printing and modeling
  • Power storage and generation
  • Biotechnology
  • Quantum computing

“As a nation, we must try to develop our next generation. We should skill them to be able and useful to participate in the digital and knowledge-based economy,” said Prof Owolawi.

He acknowledged the media as well as the Information and Communication Technologies Sector Education and Training Authority (MICTSETA) for their valuable contribution in establishing some 10 programmes around emerging fields, such as data science, cloud engineering, and robotics. “I look forward that these programmes become well-established in order for young people from rural areas to engage with it and benefit from them,” he concluded.

For more information on the Tshwane University of Technology, please contact Phaphama Tshisikhawe, Corporate Affairs and Marketing.
Tel: +27 12 382 4711   Email: tshisikhawerpt@tut.ac.za