UNIDO, African Union and UNECA join to upscale digitalization in Africa

In the context of African Industrialization Week 2020, UNIDO convened an expert virtual panel elaborating on “Digital transformation strategy in action – Developing a roadmap towards the Fourth Industrial Revolution in Africa”, moderated by Bernardo Calzadilla-Sarmiento, Managing Director and in association with the African Union and UNECA. The webinar reflected upon how digitalization policy in Africa can be leveraged to accelerate inclusive and sustainable industrial development, in view of the African Union’s Strategy for Digital Transformation 2020-2030.

Bernardo Calzadilla-Sarmiento opened the discussion, outlining the background to the Fourth Industrial Revolution globally and in Africa. In a keynote address, Pedro Lopes, State Secretary for Innovation and TVET, Cabo Verde, stressed Africa’s assets for transitioning to a digital future, including its youth, flexibility and creativity. “We as Africans, do not want to be just spectators; we want to be active agents of change,” he said.

Nekesa Were, CEO, Afrilabs, cited that the major issue as a lack of opportunity, as-many African Governments are large purchasers of technological solutions, but they are not looking at establishing technology clusters. Oliver Chinganya, Director, African Centre for Statistics stressed that digital technology and innovation is key to impactful solutions in Africa. “There is lots of potential in Africa: governments just need to invest greater resources,” pleaded Mr. Chinganya.

The conclusions of the session are intended to inform the African Union’s Summit on Industrialization and Economic Diversification 2021. The session also foreshadows the development of a continental mapping of innovation initiatives between UNIDO and UNECA, plus a roadmap for the African Union’s Digital Transformation Strategy for Africa 2020-2030.

Watch the recording of the session here.

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