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Tuesday, 27 October 2020

Spotlight falls on Africa’s competitiveness in digital economy

FROM CHALLENGES TO OPPORTUNITIES: Guest Speaker, Prof Willie Chinyamurindi from the University of Fort Hare addressed the 2020 virtual International Conference on Business and Management Dynamics on the African alchemy in the global economy. FROM CHALLENGES TO OPPORTUNITIES: Guest Speaker, Prof Willie Chinyamurindi from the University of Fort Hare addressed the 2020 virtual International Conference on Business and Management Dynamics on the African alchemy in the global economy.

Research papers, case studies and technical research reports that address issues in various aspects of disciplines related to Business Management were discussed during the 2020 virtual International Conference on Business and Management Dynamics (ICBMD).

The annual conference was hosted by the Faculty of Business and Management Sciences together with its partners University of Namibia School of Business, University of Fort Hare, North-West University, and the University of KwaZulu-Natal.  The theme of the virtual conference was Enhancing Africa’s Development and Competitiveness in the Digital Economy and Beyond.

The sixth ICBMD provided a platform for discussion, interaction, collaboration, networking and sharing, for the sake of adding value to existing bodies of knowledge related to the conference theme. It afforded researchers, government officials and business practitioners a unique opportunity to share their perspectives with others.

When welcoming delegates to the conference Prof Paul Green, Dean of the Faculty of Business and Management Sciences and the conference’s chairperson, said the conference has a credible reputation of being at the forefront of contemporary issues, challenges and opportunities.

“The abstracts contained within this document followed a rigorous process of a double-blind peer-review by the ICBMD scientific committee drawn from around the globe,” continued Green. He added that out of 42 abstracts reviewed only 33 were accepted and that 30 Full Papers were accepted out of the 40 that were reviewed.

“We thank the authors of these manuscripts for providing the content of the programme and acknowledge and appreciate the support of the organising and the scientific committees, who worked tirelessly in reviewing papers and providing feedback to authors,” said Green.

Dr David Phaho, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research, Technology, Innovation & Partnerships said when the conference was first conceptualised, no one on the planet could have foreseen the unprecedented upheavals the world experienced over the past few months.

“The current crisis sees us combating an insidious and a seemingly invincible enemy that has wrought unimaginable devastation and misery to every hamlet, village, town and city across the world,” said Phaho.” The global economy which has been humming along year on year has ground to a halt with millions of jobs lost, some forever.”

He added that amidst the chaos lie opportunities for people to think and act anew. “The fact that  we are holding this conference virtually is telling,” he continued. “The new normal has in one broad stroke accelerated the world towards the digital economy and beyond.”

Guest Speaker, Prof Willie Chinyamurindi from the University of Fort Hare, said the African continent is full of endless opportunities. In his presentation, he traced Africa’s search for gold as an important mineral deposit through the documented experiences of the refinement of gold with glass by Islamic alchemists in Tadmekka, Mali.

“The work of Rehren and Nixon published in the Journal of Archaeological Science narrates this experience,” said Chinyamurindi. “Based on this, I then develop nuggets that inform contemporary business leaders, practitioners and academics.”

His aim was to take a purely African story of alchemy and then draw life lessons. “In summary, may we as leaders be purposeful and intentional in developing not only ourselves and others but the ideas that can change our society. In doing so, Africa must also lead from the front as source of innovation to assist not only the continent but the entire world,” he added.

Keynote speaker, Professor Dileep Kumar from Mohammed VI Polytechnic University, Morocco, said the backbone of the digital economy is hyper connectivity, which means growing interconnectedness of people, organisations, and machines that result from the Internet, mobile technology and the internet of things. “With the advent of industrial 4.0, more and more enterprises and business entities are moving towards technology and digital-based platforms,” added Kumar.

He argued that Industry 4.0 enables the manufacturing sector to become digitalised with built-in sensing devices virtually in all manufacturing components, products, and equipment. “However, there are a lot of barriers for African enterprises to go digital, which include customer need identification, ecosystem creation, governance, market acceptance of digitalisation, transparency, data security, financial outlay, new organisational structure, resources, human capital, etc,” he said.

Dr Michael Twum-Darko, Acting Head of Department: Graduate Centre for Management, has been the convener of ICBMD for the last six years.

Written by Kwanele Butana

Email: butanak@cput.ac.za

Provides coverage for the Business and Management Sciences and Education Faculties, Student Affairs Department and Cape Town and Mowbray Campuses.