Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams has lauded a pioneering middle ear transplant at Steve Biko Academic Hospital this week that resulted in a 35-year-old man regaining his hearing.
“As South Africa we are very proud of Professor [Mashudu] Tshifularo’s achievement,” Ndabeni Abrahams told SAnews on Friday.
The procedure, which involved the use of 3D-printed middle ear bones, was developed by Professor Tshifularo and his team at the University of Pretoria.
The ground-breaking procedure on the man, who had lost his hearing in a car accident, may be the answer to conductive hearing loss. The condition is caused by congenital birth defects, infection, trauma or metabolic diseases.
“[The procedure] is one of a kind and as a country we feel like we can build more by identifying our own opportunities in the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” said the Minister.
Ndabeni-Abrahams on Friday, together with multinational company Nokia, hosted a Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) Innovation Day at the company’s offices in Centurion.
The event saw government officials and young people who are beneficiaries of the TechnoGirl programme being exposed to technological innovations that improve the quality of learning, conservation and fashion, among others.
The Minister is the ambassador of TechnoGirl, the job-shadowing programme for girls. The programme is biased towards careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
She said the Professor’s achievement is evidence of how technology can assist communities.
“We say 4IR is the way to go,” she said.
Earlier in the day the Minister interacted with young people who were impressed with the way that technology is changing the world.
She urged learners to pursue careers within STEM.
The Minister also tried her hand at one of the demonstrations on site. The demonstration showed how technology can be utilised on online clothing platforms where by the application can take virtual measurements of person without one having to leave the comfort of home.
The connected retail application, among other things, measures waist circumference which it then uses to allocate the right size of clothing that a consumer wants to buy, thereby revolutionising the way the world shops.
Another application on display at the Nokia premises is that of how technology is used in animal conservation efforts. The technology uses 360/degree video analysis in real time to protect humans and animals in nature reserves.
This demonstration made use of the Rietvlei Nature Reserve in Pretoria.
Filmmaker Relobogile Maifadi who is doing a one-year learnership at the Leadership in Motion (LIMA) academy located in Eersterust, was impressed at how innovation is changing the world.
“The experience here was wonderful because we learned about technology’s innovative ways and how it’s constantly evolving and growing at a fast pace. We were also exposed to how we can use technology to work effectively and t produce content of a benefit to other people as well,” said Maifadi.
The department’s partnership with LIMA seeks to empower students at the Pretoria township film academy started by actor Thato Molamu, with relevant 4IR skills for the creative sector professional.