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This week, ABB opened the Customer World Africa 2018 conference at the Sandton Convention Centre where bridging the gap between digital technology access and skills development amongst the youth was of focus.

With efforts to support this technological transfer ABB and the University of the Witwatersrand Technology Centre initiated a long-term partnership.

The University of the Witwatersrand Technology Centre, known as the Tshimologong Precinct, is a digital technology centre, inspired by the Kendal Square Initiative in Boston, US, and the East London Tech City in London's East End, UK, that is powering digital innovation, catalysing Black-owned tech start-ups for participation in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Centrally located in Braamfontein, it also serves as the platform for Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and Industry 4.0.

The University has partnerships in the Southern African Development Community (SADEC) region, and this fosters growth amongst African colleagues, initiates conversation and transfer of learnings.

“Social investment in the Digital Technology Centre offers under-privileged youth access to the fast-changing digital technology economy to develop local Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) solutions,” the technology solutions provider said.

A company statement noted that an estimated R9 billion is spent annually in South Africa on corporate social investment, with close to 50% being spent on education at various levels (source: Trialogue, 2017).

“The state of educational institutions, national skills shortages in the country as well as high unemployment, especially youth unemployment, is the purpose for this year on year investment,” the firm added.

Leon Viljoen, MD ABB Southern Africa, says: “We are excited that our social investment will offer young people access to the digital economy and provide the opportunity for ABB to contribute towards industrial automation and digital technology in the region.

“It also provides us the opportunity to interact with future business and entrepreneurial leaders, who are brimming with bright ideas. As businesses we are responsible to shape the future by mentoring those that follow us.”

ESI Africa's sister publication, Mining Review Africa, interviewed ABB Digital Lead for Southern Africa, Stuart Michie. Listen to the full interview here.