Africa as a continent has been witnessing a dawn of a technology revolution. The rapid change is soon going to affect the entire region as a whole – lives, jobs, economy, relationships, industries and even politics. According to the world leaders, the continent is seeing “a transformation unlike anything humankind has experienced before”.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution and how it is going to affect Africa, was the hot topic of discussion at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Unlike the Third Industrial revolution, when information technology and electronics transformed lives in Africa, the Fourth Industrial Revolution is said to be something that would be a paradigm shift. People in Africa would see the barriers between man and machine dissolve. Africa has been undergoing a digital revolution for the last 15 years and is gradually achieving the standards of the most advanced nations; the Fourth Revolution would dramatically propel this digital growth in the entire continent.
The big question: What does this technology-driven revolution mean for Africa?
Typical and routine blue and white-collar jobs will start becoming automated, which would mean that creativity, IT, agile management and foundational skills will win over traditional know-how. Employers will rely less on traditional knowledge, prioritizing innovation and adaptability instead. High-skilled jobs in the fields of science, technology, engineering and IT will also increase.
What does the government need to do about it?
Collaborate and Innovate: As the governments in Africa continue to aim for rapid economic growth, create good governance systems, technology and business innovation in local economies and the creation of jobs, most governing bodies will continue to encounter many challenges in the delivery of services to citizens, to business, or in relation to intra-governmental operations. The ability of these governments to adapt and drive digital transformation across all segments of society will determine their competitiveness and credibility.
The key is to democratize information and break tradition.
This would mean changing the mindset of the average African citizen. Making them understand the importance of this change and helping them develop better skills. Moreover, as Africa works to shift from a labour-based economy to a knowledge economy, investments in 21st-century education and skills development is no longer an option but a necessity.
Also, governments across Africa need to replace traditional approaches to delivering citizen-centric services with innovative solutions powered by technologies. Things like cloud computing, big data and analytics need to be readily adapted to make governance more effective and meaningful. As the continent continues to invest in digital transformation, civil servants need to be trained on how to optimize these innovations and technology change.
Last but not the least, Africa is seeing a new generation of leadership, that believe in collaboration, openness, the circulation of knowledge, research and the power of information technology, and these leader are confidently pushing the continent further.
We should never forget: If Africa can embrace a world of disruption and change, it will endure. It will also deliver on its promise to be the next “growth engine” of the world and the optimism has seen them embrace technology, and use it as a force for good.