May 12, 2016Michael Sutherland-Shaw
Africa has “no choice but to be ambitious” in embracing the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
From electrification, a revolutionized education system, to space travel, that’s the message being expressed at the 26th World Economic Forum on Africa in Kigali, Rwanda this week.
According to Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda, Africa must utilize the Fourth Industrial Revolution to transform itself. “Africa should not still be playing catch-up when the fifth revolution comes around,” he said.
Kagame said digital solutions in financial markets need to be scaled up. In addition, efficient, reliable and stable capital markets are key to providing access to funding for growth, with ICT making such markets viable.
However, development and growth is about more than just machines. Kagame said the African people are also a great resource.
Africa has “no choice but to be ambitious,” said Akinwumi Ayodeji Adesina, President, African Development Bank (AfDB), adding the greatest priority for the continent is universal electrification. The AfDB has pledged $12.5 billion over the next five years on its New Deal in Electricity.
However, for Graca Machel, founder of the Foundation for Community Development (FDC), it’s crucial the Fourth Revolution does not leave anyone behind.
“It is not humanitarian to be inclusive towards women, said Machel. It makes business and common sense – as they make up half the population and bring different skills and perceptions to bear on challenges.”
In addition, Machel and Dominic Barton, Global Managing Director, McKinsey & Company, USA urged a revolution in education.
The pair believe the four-year college model is not working well in Africa. Barton believes four-to-six-week specialized courses would get young people into business and see real economic change.
“We need change now. We are very good at drawing up policies, but very weak at implementation,” Machel said.
Lastly, Elsie S. Kanza, Head of Africa, Member of the Executive Committee, World Economic Forum, said her vision for the Fourth Industrial Revolution is to send a team of African women to Mars in a spacecraft designed and launched from its own soil.