Entrepreneurs are typically job creators and contributors to national GDPs. Digital entrepreneurship focuses on the creation of digital businesses and the adoption of digital technologies by entrepreneurs. This combination has the potential to help make entrepreneurship more inclusive, ultimately easing the current high levels of unemployment.

Digital transformation includes the adoption and integration of information and communication technologies. It leads inexorably to an increasingly digital society but at the same is accompanied by much uncertainty and unforeseen consequences.

In SA, youth entrepreneurs have to overcome a number of challenges before they are able to participate in the digital space. For starters youth in disadvantaged communities lack the relevant skills and access to ICT infrastructure to even engage with 4IR.

The question of how SA can best take advantage of the opportunities presented by digital transformation was the focus of a recent Business Day Dialogues LIVE in partnership with Unisa Graduate School of Business Leadership (UNISA SBL).

Professor Walter Matli, associate professor of Digital Transformation & Innovation at UNISA SBL pointed out that the institution has a rich history of academic excellence as far as delivering cutting edge business education is concerned. UNISA SBL, he said, provides students with analytic skills and a professional network and teaches it students how to be responsive and adapt to an ever-changing environment.

The university was very cognisant that the digital divide continues to exist. As a result, UNISA SBL provides students with access to ICT centres.

Digital transformation is about evolving and augmenting more than it is about replacing human capabilities, said digital transformation expert, Amit Kumar. Digital technologies will ensure a growing merger between the digital and physical worlds. Jobs of the future will include artificial intelligence, quantum computing and data analytics, amongst others.

Dr Ayomikun Idowu, assistant professor of Information Systems at the University of Sussex Business School said we don’t do enough to encourage young people to pursue digital careers. Digital employment, he added, exposes young people to many different skills and provides them with opportunities to constantly upskills themselves. However, technology needs to be accessible, reliable, and affordable and add value to entrepreneurs if they are to be encouraged to take advantage of it.

Youth employment and digital innovation, he stressed, are a package deal. Traditional organisations no longer have the capacity to employ people at scale which is why we need to develop uniquely African solutions to uniquely African challenges and situations.

UNISA SBL alumni Tebogo Rakgatla, the sales and operations director at MTCORNPRO pointed out that the Fourth Industrial Revolution is not something that is going to happen in the future but is here now. Digital migration and bridging the digital divide, she urged, has to happen at speed or SA risks leaving much of its population behind.

Saki Zamxaka, the CEO of GEP, a provincial development finance institution which provides funding and other assistance to entrepreneurs, said government needs to better understand what entrepreneurs need to succeed. He said government was partnering with the private sector to help bridge the digital divide.

To re-watch the discussion visit : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G1eqLgChXD4