As the economy of KwaZulu-Natal recovers post COVID-19, the civil unrest and flood disasters, Premier Nomusa Dube-Ncube has unveiled an ambitious plan for the province to emerge stronger and be recognised as an economic and technology powerhouse.
Dube-Ncube launched the Mobile Digital Analytics Skills Laboratories, which aim to expose learners and youth to Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) technologies, and empower them with the entrepreneurial acumen to be part of the multitrillion-dollar digital economy.
Launched recently at Orient Heights Primary School in Pietermaritzburg, the Mobile Digital Analytics Skills Laboratories are part of the broader Connected Smart Province Project, driven by the Premier.
The Connected Smart Province Project is anchored on the pillars of broadband connectivity; 4IR skills development; innovation incubation; technology production; commercialisation of innovation, and solving social issues with smart business processes and technology.
Unveiling the mobile lab, Dube-Ncube said the province has a skilled population and massive potential to grow the digital economy, which are key catalysts for a thriving province.
To take advantage of the digital economy, the Premier said young people must start working on the technology gadgets in the lab, which are linked to robotics, drone technology, mechatronics and other technologies.
“As we unveil this project, we want to expose our learners from a young age to a world of new horizons of work and careers, which are broadened to include Space Technology, Data Analytics, Multimedia Production l and 9D Technology. This is one of the ways that the province of KwaZulu-Natal plans to position itself as a technology hub with youth and women at the centre,” Dube-Ncube said.
She added that in a world characterised by technological disruptions, which has resulted in the biggest companies globally coming from the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector, the provincial government believes that it has to assist children from primary school phase so that they are ready for careers of the future.
“And that future starts today, as we ready our youth and learners to enter what is conservatively estimated as being a multitrillion rand digital economy globally. This will give us the edge and ensure that we remain globally competitive as KwaZulu-Natal.
“The digitalisation of education in the province has been at the forefront of our agenda and the use of technology has been further spurred by COVID-19 which forced us to learn and engage virtually through online platforms,” said Dube-Ncube.
The mobile lab is completely off the grid, as it is solar powered and has back-up generators to ensure that learning and teaching is not affected during power outage.
The Premier said that over the coming months, similar labs will be launched in the rest of the province, district by district.