.Publication by the Mandela Institute with generous financial and editorial support from the Centre for the Study of the Economies of Africa (CSEA), authored by Alexander Beyleveld is a Senior Researcher at the Mandela Institute and Franziska Sucker is an Associate Professor at the Wits School of Law. 

The original Industrial Revolution was powered by steam; the second by electricity. The rise of digitization and automation generally defined the Third Industrial Revolution, which was largely powered by oil. Today, we find ourselves in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), which is largely powered and characterized by data.

It can hardly be contested that data is central to today’s global economy in ways that it never has been before. Data flows across borders far more frequently than at any other point in time. Most importantly, these flows are creating or have created immense value (at least on aggregate) and are, therefore, central to businesses and business practices. They have fundamentally changed what and how much is traded, as well as with whom and how trade is conducted. Put differently, cross-border data flows have increased the scope, scale, and speed of trade.

Access the publication on the CSEA website.