The Parliamentarian 2018: Issue Three

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FOURTH INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION UNDER THE MICROSCOPE

FOURTH INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION UNDER THE MICROSCOPE Parliamentary staff develop their skills to meet the impact of the Fourth Industrial Revolution at the 3rd SoCATT Africa Region Development Seminar in Namibia

Immanuel Kooper is the Chief

Information Officer at the National Council of the Parliament of Namibia.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is indeed a reality as it seems that artificial intelligence systems challenge the usual traditional norms of work performance by humans. Due to the overwhelming flow of information, the work of Parliaments becomes more complex, as we are at the brink of a technological revolution that will primarily alter the way things are being done. The Fourth Industrial Revolution is thus signaling a new world order. The 3rd Society of Clerksat-the-Table (SoCATT) Africa Region Professional Development Seminar was held under the theme of ‘Capacitating Parliaments towards realizing Agenda 2063: The role of Parliaments in the age of knowledge-based economy’. The seminar was held from 2 to 3 July 2018 at the Safari Court Hotel and Conference Centre in the capital city of Windhoek, Namibia for Clerks and parliamentary staff from across the CPA Africa Region, who converged in an attempt to transform parliamentary operations and practices in Africa. Amidst the exorbitant costs of data and limited access to technology by the masses of the African people, it is high time for the continent of Africa and its inhabitants to embrace technological advancements in this modern world of technology. Africa today, like any other

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continent in the world, is faced with what is referred to as the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The two-day gathering was attended by Parliamentary Secretaries and Clerks from countries across the African continent among them Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Zambia, Lesotho, Kenya, Ghana, Botswana and national and provincial Legislatures from South Africa. A multi-disciplinary team of presenters and panelists formed part of the gathering, sharing their knowledge and expertise for the continent to be able to compete within the status quo of the world order. There is indeed a need for Parliaments particularly in Africa to: • Revisit old parliamentary codes and rules, and refashion them to talk to the needs and realities of changing Parliaments of the 21st century; • Reconfigure and/or rethink parliamentary systems and processes and explore different avenues for contextualizing new parliamentary management paradigms that have a positive cumulative impact on the administration of parliamentary business. • Improve parliamentary core business processes to ensure that they maximise efficiency; • Improve and provide integrated and seamless

support to Members of Parliament as they discharge their constitutional duties around oversight, accountability, making quality laws and increasing public participation in parliamentary processes. • Refocuses parliamentary systems and processes to be member-centric. • Ensure that the support and service offerings are tailor made for individual needs of Members of Parliament to ensure that they discharge their responsibilities unhindered. • Make considerable efforts to ensure that Members of Parliament, as elected representatives of the people, are able to access, in real time and space, research products, content advisory services, legal and procedural advice of highest quality. • Improve the value of information and ease of use. For Parliamentarians and parliamentary staff in the CPA Africa Region and for the Society of Clerks-at-the-Table (SoCATT) Africa Region membership, the observation is that, in this current world that is at a stage of profound change and major readjustment, they face the common problem of bringing expert knowledge to bear on parliamentary business and decision-making. As McGann (2009) rightfully observes “in a