Capturing the Fourth Industrial Revolution: A Regional and National Agenda
The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR)— characterized by the fusion of the digital, biological, and physical worlds, as well as the growing utilization of new technologies such as artificial intelligence, cloud computing, robotics, 3D printing, the Internet of Things, and advanced wireless technologies, among others—has ushered in a new era of economic disruption with uncertain socio-economic consequences for Africa. However, Africa has been left behind during the past industrial revolutions. Will this time be different? So far, it does not appear that Africa has yet claimed the 21st century, as it still lags behind in several indicators essential for a successful digital revolution. Improvements in Africa’s ICT sector have been largely driven by expanding mobile digital financial services: The region had nearly half of global mobile money accounts in 2018 and will see the fastest growth in mobile money through 2025. But artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain are also attracting interest in Africa, as they have the potential to successfully address social and economic challenges there. And there are so many other areas in which 4IR technology can be transformational.