High-level side event highlights Africa’s potential for digital transformation

In the context of the 53rd session of the Economic Commission for Africa, UNIDO convened a high-level side event “Making the Fourth Industrial Revolution Work for Africa” on 20 March 2021. The event built on recent cooperation streams with UNECA, including a co-hosted side event on African digitalization during African Industrialization Week 2020, and plans to conduct a digital mapping of innovation hubs on the continent, in the context of the African Digital Transformation Strategy 2020-2030.

Event featured UNIDO Managing Director Bernardo Calzadilla-Sarmiento as moderator; a keynote address from Her Excellency Stella Ndabeni Abrahams, Minister of Communications and Digital Technology, South Africa; and a policy discussion featuring Amani Abou-Zeid, African Union Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy, and Bogolo J. Kenewendo, a former Minister of Trade, Investment and Industry, Botswana.

In his opening remarks, Bernardo Calzadilla-Sarmiento stressed the role of multilateralism and partnerships in addressing the digital divide, inclusion of women and micro, small and medium enterprises, and upgrading of innovation ecosystems, digital skills and infrastructure.

Stella Ndabeni Abrahams urged African countries to upscale their capacities for digital transformation regionally. “The novelty of the Fourth Industrial Revolution to the African continent…represents an opportunity for both regional and national policies and normative frameworks that will not only enhance cooperation but will embed transformation, through the capacity of African governments to deliver digital services and solutions to address local challenges,” she said.

Amani Abou-Zeid underlined the importance of policy harmonization en route to an African Single Digital Market and the rural-urban divide, while Bogolo j. Kenewendo urged greater investment in digital infrastructure and acceleration of start-ups by African governments.

Access the recording of the session here.

For further information contact Alejandro Rivera-Rojas (A.RIVERA-ROJAS [at] unido.org)