Africa’s Influence on the Fourth Industrial Revolution
By Daniel Kimotho
Africa’s rising has been discussed to a great extent in the last few years, as people are awakened to the achievements, trails blazed and opportunities created by Africans in various frontiers such as commerce, trade, technology, leadership and innovation. Already, those on the forefront of the fourth industrial revolution are using emerging technologies to reshape, redefine and disrupt existing industries.
Higher productivity, precision and efficiency is being attained through devices equipped/powered by internet of things, (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain (or applied cryptography) technologies. Predictive analysis is giving rise to better decision making in agriculture, food production and various supply chains. The developed world has owing to innovation in these areas seen great acceleration in overall economic development, GDP growth and improved quality of life.
The other avenue that innovation in these technologies has opened up is new frontiers in the freelance economy and the creative economy. The freelance economy has allowed people to determine their working hours, specialise and capitalise on skills from which they want to earn income, whereas they would have been confined to a traditional working space for a regular work week. It has given rise to new combinations of skills, and called upon people to redefine work productivity.
In order for Africans to step forward and have influence in the fourth industrial revolution, there is dire need especially among the youth to take up self-learning in skills that will enable them to build applications to create value for Africa and the world at large. In the previous centuries, innovators largely led through creation of products. In this industrial age, innovators will largely lead through concepts and software, as the world tends towards a digital scape.
In at least 22 African countries, there exists a network of internet service providers, each in a range above 20 -60%. Various initiatives are ongoing both by government and private institutions to increase the connectivity of Africa’s vast regions. In the increased provision of internet services lies perhaps the greatest gift to Africa’s youth, many of whom are increasingly tech savvy, knowing how to use a smartphone, or a digital device from a tender age. Instead of spending time on the consumer end, as many products are pushed for consumption onto our borders.
For Africa to be on a leading forefront in the fourth industrial revolution, the focus needs to optimise problems into opportunities to be solved through skills. Having natural resources and advantages has not been the magic bullet it was meant to be for economic growth; therefore, there is need to explore, exploit and export the arena of skill. There is no limit to what one can create or develop in skill, because that’s the gateway to build relevant and sustainable solutions for Africa.