ICT Can Lead SA To Skip Straight to the ‘Fourth Wave’


Alvin Toffler wrote a famous book called The Third Wave in which he urges post-industrial society to remove themselves from the “second wave” and into the third wave society. Rabelani Dagada, a development economist and author based at Wits Business School, believes that we can skip both and move straight from the first to the fourth wave.

The first wave of economic human evolution occurred when humans turned to agriculture for survival and began to live together in villages for the first time. While developed countries have moved away from this first wave, South Africa still has one foot in this wave as our economy relies on agriculture, forestry and fishing.

South Africa has never managed a full shift into the second wave, commonly known as the industrial revolution, mainly because the country lacks the skills and machinery required.

In other areas though, we are excelling. South Africa has an ocean of talent in the information and communications technology (ICT) sector. Many mobile inventions have been invented in SA and the country now boasts one of the most sophisticated mobile banking systems in the world. According to Dagada, SA should use ICT to forge its way further into the second wave and into the fourth wave.

While Toffler’s wave theory doesn’t mention a fourth wave, Dagada views the fourth wave as an era during which ICT will be a major player in the economic and development landscapes. He sees ICT as having the power to drive manufacturing, supply chains, financial services, healthcare, education, agriculture, media and entertainment.

We can already see this idea of the fourth wave occurring throughout Asia and SA isn’t being left far behind. Africa is becoming a prime investment location Dagada believes that if SA implements some well-crafted ICT policies now, it will be no time before the country is riding the fourth wave in the future.

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