Africa’s readiness to embrace the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) will be dependent on its youth and the pressure it puts on government to create an enabling environment that will foster collaboration in developing solutions to the challenges facing communities, says Innovation Hub CEO Advocate Peter Holl.
This, he told delegates at the 2019 edition of the International Association of Science Parks Africa Division conference and workshop, on Thursday, will, “according to futurists”, allow Africa to take advantage in solving its challenges through solutions that can be found in the 4IR.
Challenges in the health and education sectors, besides others, were highlighted as areas that could be improved under the 4IR banner.
However, in addressing these challenges and opportunities for the continent, Inforcomm MD Andile Tlhoaele called for a mindset change in order to fully adapt to and use 4IR to Africa’s advantage.
The difference of the 4IR, compared with the industrial revolutions that came before, lies in the scale and speed at which it is adopted and the impact it makes, he stated.
Considering that the 4IR is characterised by digital forces – such as artificial intelligence, cloud and robotics – which are used as tools to drive change, Tlhoaele said people would need to adapt to the concept of “reframing” the role of these digital forces.
Here he explained that, when reframing a thought process surrounding a solution, one would need to “think about the people and their pain [of experiencing the challenge]”, from which ideas are then born, experimented with and tested, before solutions are fully realised.
Radical collaboration and embracing diverse opinions, while using the digital forces as an enabler, would be key to unlocking the opportunities 4IR brings, he noted.
Additionally, solutions should be based on the National Development Plan.
Science parks and technology hubs should be considered when developing solutions, Tlhoaele said, adding that it would allow and enable sourcing inputs from a diverse range of people and opinions, and would assist in developing the solution to be applicable for different users’ needs.
Opportunities for science and technology parks, meanwhile, include the possibility to facilitate 4IR enterprise development programmes, which could lead to radical collaboration and development at a large scale, while also providing an opportunity to showcase Africa’s value-add on digital forces.
These parks could also facilitate 4IR skills development and employment opportunities, while also providing a platform through which innovations can be continuously updated and adapted, Tlhoaele said.