Preparing Africa for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR)

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The African Development Bank is holding workshops on the ability of the emerging technologies of the fourth industrial revolution to overcome the challenges that Africans face. The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) is steadily becoming a reality in Africa even though the phenomenon is still embryonic.

The workshop will reveal the Bank’s support for the digital economy in Africa and provide participants with a forum to share challenges and explore relevant approaches.

The workshops follow on from the recent launch of the report ‘Unlocking the potential of the fourth industrial revolution in Africa’ by the Industrial and Trade Development Department of the African Development Bank. The report addresses the current state of the fourth industrial revolution and the business case for specific technologies in Africa: Artificial Intelligence, blockchain, big data analytics, the Internet of Things, additive manufacturing and drones.

The report reveals a continent that is embracing the brave new world of the Fourth Industrial Revolution but needs to improve access to finance, skills and inclusive growth.

Gary Schneider, Managing Director of public policy at Citigroup, said: “Governments must help get people ready to participate in the new revolution. They must engage to create room for change”. Education and fiscal incentives were clear examples where the government could catalyse adoption of new technologies.

But policy development is hard. Pierre Guislain, Vice President at the African Development Bank, urged governments to think regionally to create scalable, competitive digital markets. “The Bank is ready to finance measures, we just need to be asked for the money”.  The lesson of the report and the panel is that Africa is, for the first time, embarking on an industrial revolution at the same time as the rest of the world. It is already adopting new technologies and creating new businesses.

Such events also aim to deepen collaboration with other development partners, governments and the private sector; and create business-to-business (B2B) networking opportunities between the Bank’s technical experts and invited private sector players.

The workshops targets ministries in charge of the digital economy, industry and investments, the private sector, civil society organizations, development partners, the media and Bank staff.

The first workshop will be held in the final week of February 2020. The full report can be accessed here:


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