ONE of the major concerns of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) is that it could lead to job losses – particularly in the mining sector, where robotics and Artificial Intelligence (AI) is expected to eventually run mines, making some jobs redundant.
Considering these concerns, the Deputy Minister of Mines and Energy, Kornelia Shilunga, said that there is a need to prepare the Namibian workforce for the inevitability that work environments will be changed by technology.
Shilunga said this at the Mining Expo and Conference, where she emphasised that workers need to be protected and prepared for the 4IR.
“The role of unionism in the face of automation must be factored in, as well as the role unions are playing to prepare those whom they represent for the eventuality of a full-blown Fourth Industrial Revolution wave,” she said.
The evolution towards the 4IR, she explained, is inevitable and was not even halted by the Covid-19 pandemic, which recently simmered down, after claiming more than 4 000 lives in the country.
This “dramatic, but steady tide” towards the 4IR, Shilunga said, might come with uncertainties, but is also projected to bring valuable opportunities for the Namibian and global economy.
She therefore emphasised the importance of preparedness, adding that conversations must be fostered on which elements of work will be altered first by the revolution in Namibia and how workers will be protected.
This, she said, is why the Mining Expo and Conference – which aimed to offer a platform for these type of discussions – came at the opportune time.
She explained that the expo gave the industry an opportunity to discuss the country’s position in the mining sector to ensure renewed growth and expansion post-pandemic and to enhance preparedness for unforeseen obstacles to protect lives, livelihoods, businesses and the economy.