NEMISA has a mandate to develop capacity in South Africa to ensure that South Africans have the necessary digital skills (e-skills) to participate in a digital economy that is driven by rapidly advancing technologies. A part of the mandate is to establish an innovative research network focusing on digital skills with links to public and/or private university networks locally and internationally. The aim of the network is to “provide the evidence-based basis, through research and other available means, for decisions on how to innovatively address the opportunities and systemic challenges in achieving digital skills capacity in South Africa”.
NEMISA and the University of South Africa (UNISA) signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) for the period of 1 April 2019 to 31 March 2022 for the NEMISA Strategic Goal: ‘Programme 4: Knowledge for Innovation’ (K4i). K4i is an ongoing evidence-based research programme operating in a cross-disciplinary manner to concentrate on new ways to embed technology into people's lives. This is to improve opportunities, access to government services, and to move towards social cohesion.
Specifically, K4I is a research-focused entity that provides the following services to NEMISA:
- A national environmental scan: This is a baseline study of the level of digital skills in South Africa. There are currently 3 phases – the individual level, the organisational/company level, and government level.
- Digital skills events for academics, government and practitioners. This year’s colloquium theme is ‘Digital Innovation and Transformation Conference: Digital Skills 2019’.
- Support for research into digital skills. This includes stakeholder engagement, workshops, and sponsoring Masters and PhD research.
K4i’s and NEMISA’s multi-stakeholder network:
The above tasks are not distinct activities as they are part of the larger NEMISA and Department of Communications and Digital Technologies (DCDT) agenda towards preparing South Africa for the digital economy and the 4th Industrial Revolution. K4i is a collaboration between multiple stakeholders, including South African universities. K4i works within the collaboration network of NEMISA and the provincial CoLabs (and their universities).