The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) heralds the digitalization of manufacturing and immense opportunities to achieve inclusive and sustainable industrial development. However, at present Africa lags behind other regions due to inter alia a lack of digital infrastructure (including affordable internet access), the digital skills gap and the digital gender divide.
For instance, just 28 per cent of Africans have Internet access today, compared with over 53 per cent of the global population. Africans continue to pay the highest fees for Internet access relative to monthly income, yet digitalization also presents tremendous opportunities.
For example, the regional mobile money market was estimated to be worth 14 billion dollars in 2020, with 50 million Africans creating accounts in 2019 alone. Regarding the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), artificial intelligence can potentially address 134 out of 169 Targets.
In order to conceptualize digital transformation in Africa, UNIDO recently convened a high-level side event in the context of African Industrialisation Week 2020, entitled “Making the Fourth Industrial Revolution Work for Africa”, in association with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and the African Union Commission.
The panel suggested a number of concrete recommendations for digital policies and partnerships, that were gathered jointly with relevant statistics for the digital transformation of African continent, compiled in a first output brochure, which informs about a mapping of innovation ecosystems and digitalization initiatives taking place in Africa, to be conducted by UNIDO and UNECA in 2021.
These will feed into the African Union Summit on Industrialization and Economic Diversification 2021 and the development of a roadmap for the African Union’s Digital Transformation Strategy for Africa 2020-2030.
Read the brochure here.
Footage of the session is viewable here.
For further information contact Alejandro Rivera-Rojas (A.Rivera-Rojas [at] unido.org)