digital industrial policy framework


Advances in technologies are disrupting production processes in unprecedented ways across industries around the world. These changes are bringing new opportunities for improving productivity and competitiveness in various sectors but are also bringing new challenges. History has shown that successfully managing the structural changes driven by technology is crucial for ensuring wider benefits. It is therefore critical to understand the nature of the disruptions for different industries. The Industrial Development Think Tank (IDTT) supported by the Department of Trade and Industry (dti) is working on a programme of research deepening understanding of processes of technological change in the context of industry 4.0. This will inform a digital industrial policy framework and a policy issues paper.

There are several processes underway relating to the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ and digitalization, especially those focused on the technological changes. The work of the IDTT complements other work underway in assessing the implications for industrial development (and associated industrial and trade policies) in the context of South Africa’s development challenges. The analysis underway is considering the key transversal issues and the implications for production systems and value chains.

The main components of the process to develop the policy issues paper, as an input to the framework, are as follows:

  • Compilation of issues briefs on a selection of key South African manufacturing sectors, and their associated value chains and clusters

  • A process of dialogues drawing on authoritative voices regarding the position of South African manufacturing industry and related services in comparative international context (and especially within Global Value Chains, GVCs)

  • Colloquium including international and local experts and institutions working on these issues

The combination of issues relating to digitalisation include both the different types of technology-induced disruptions which are commonly captured under the Fourth Industrial Revolution banner and the factors which affect firm-level responses, including the implications for GVCs, clusters, financing of investment and skills requirements.

Colloquium on digital industrial policy

The colloquium will draw together research findings, international business experience and insights from leading experts in order to identify the key challenges of disruptive technological change for industrial development in South Africa.

In addition to local experts, business leaders and senior government officials, the following leading international experts will be presenting and facilitating the discussion, each bringing particular areas of knowledge:

  • Dr Antonio Andreoni, SOAS, University of London, UK

  • Dr Rashmi Banga, UNCTAD

  • Parminder Jeet Singh, IT for Change, India

  • Prof David Kupfer, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

  • Prof Stefano Ponte, Copenhagen Business School, Denmark

  • Dr Tim Sturgeon, MIT Industrial Performance Centre, USA

  • Dr Jinkeun Yu, Senior Research Fellow, Korea Institute for Industrial Economics and Trade

See below key reading material by the international experts:

Andreoni, A. & Tregenna, F. (2018). Stuck in the Middle: Premature Deindustrialisation and Industrial Policy. CCRED Working Paper 11/2018

Banga, R. (2018). Chapter III. Economic Development in a Digital World: Prospects, Pitfalls and Policy Options. In Trade and Development Report 2018. Power, platforms and the free trade delusion. UNCTAD

Kupfer, D. (2018). Industry 2027. Risks and opportunities for Brazil in the face of disruptive innovations. Iniciativa da CNI – Confederação Nacional da Indústria

Rehnberg, M. & Ponte, S. (2017). From smiling to smirking? 3D printing, upgrading and the restructuring of global value chains

Singh, P.J. (2017). Digital Industrialisation in Developing Countries. A Review of the Business and Policy Landscape. IT for Change

Stugeon, T. (2017). The ‘New’ Digital Economy and Development. UNCTAD Technical Notes on ICT for Development No. 8

A collaboration between the Department of Trade and Industry, CCRED, the SARChI Chair in Industrial Development, and B&M Analysts

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