Fourth Industrial revolution: Africa’s great leap

By   /  February 26, 2016  /  No Comments

By Xolani Ndlovu


Entrepreneur’s opportunity? Listening to the World Economic Forum’s discussion on the future of Africa and the 4 th Industrial Revolution, I could not help but notice the deafening silence on entrepreneurship as a major driver of economic growth in the continent.The 4th Industrial Revolution as propounded by Professor Klaus Schwab is an epoch that will be characterized by the maturation and intersection of the fields of Energy, Biotechnology, Synthetic Biology, Internet of things, consumer electronics and automation . It is no secret that Africa is still stuck in the 2 nd Industrial revolution and is expected to sooner or later catch up with the rest of the world. History however favours the prediction that Africa will successfully make the giant leap ,like it did with cellphone technology and quickly adapt to this new era of advancement. Energy, Biotechnology, Synthetic Biology, Internet of things, consumer electronics and automation all present great entrepreneurial opportunities for students in the continent to leapfrog the cradle of mankind forward . Of all the fields in the 4th Industrial Revolution ,Energy is the one area that needs to be urgently addressed because without it, the prospects of the great leap to the 4 th Industrial revolution might as well suffer a stillbirth . In order for Africa to benefit deeply from the anticipated great leap , economic growth must be driven and led by local elements such as young people coming out of colleges and launching technology/engineering start ups.They will benefit also from positioning their nascent firms for mergers with established multinationals moving into the continent.This will subsequently expand and diversify the economy and address the poverty question in our communities. This presents a challenge to all of us as the educated youth in the continent, especially in Zimbabwe where engineering and science graduates are likely to go without jobs. Students in their final year of study should come up with projects that address a need in their area of specializations as this gives them an advantage when they come out of college having a real world problem to solve (developing a product/solution and selling it ). The challenge the government faces on the other hand are the tasks of breeding a new generation of enterprising engineers and scientists and instituting or facilitating a Public Enabled- Private Lead Initiative to open up space for an improved and effective corporate governance.

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