World Economic Forum (WEF’s) theme for the year of “Mastering the 4th Industrial Revolution” presented some of the challenges that developing countries face, although opportunities of creating new markets, re-engineering on the existing business strategies seemed to be the focus. A shift in mind set and capacity building to support national plans stemmed up as an engine for building towards a positive socio – economic activity in the near future. The core of the conversations aligned directly and indirectly to the Paris agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) of supporting responsible business practises, narrowing the gap between the developed and developing countries and “making the world a better place”.
As an emerging market, South Africa (SA) is currently not yielding the expected growth prospects. Progress has been uneven in whether it is in ensuring access to internet connection or in being innovative in the prevention of illnesses instead of treating diseases. Limitations to internet connectivity impede transfer of knowledge, business expansion and creation of small businesses – while the latter tends to decrease the rate of production and adversely having a ripple effect in the economic activity of the country. Entrepreneurship has been cited as the driver of change for the African economies. However, gender imparity, quality education, access to finance, data sharing, sound governance structures, bridging human capital and infrastructure gaps are the keys to unlocking the full realisation of a transformative, inclusive and sustainable economic growth path. SA has taken great strides in addressing gender equality and women empowerment in both corporate and public enterprises, but there is still some rhetoric that needs to be transformed into action. Authentic support thereof for entrepreneurship through industrialisation still needs to be re-invented.
With climate change revolutionising the way business is done, SA and Africa at large have an opportunity to turn the renewables market into a massive growth area. According to the World Bank “one investor characterized the renewable programme as the most successful public-private partnership in Africa in the last 20 years. Important lessons can be learned for both South Africa and other emerging markets contemplating investments in renewables and other critical infrastructure investments”. The role of regional infrastructure development is critical in building a continuing socio and economic development.
Like many of the developing countries SA has the world’s youngest population to train and develop in building agile and robust sustainable business and government strategies in the future. With climate change threatening food security and exacerbating slow economic growth. The emergence of new technology, as in biotechnology can be further developed in building a resilient and sustainable agriculture. Each country has to consider the ethical issues that this new wave of technology also brings forth as it develops its policies and regulations.
Whilst the prime responsibility to deliver rests with the government, according to PwC 87% of SA businesses are aware and understand that company responsibility lies beyond profit and that its performance is interlinked to the triple bottom line. The accountancy profession has a critical role to play in supporting the building blocks of a