5 4IR Technologies That Will Help Africa Achieve Economic Growth – SDG 8

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We may not all understand economics, but a meme on the internet sheds light. It says, “The price of cookies decreases, demand for milk increases.” Cookie lovers, movie lovers, kids, and parents know what this means. Back to our article.

4IR technologies will help Africa achieve economic growth faster. They will empower Africa to solve its business and social challenges, provide efficient public services, and affordable healthcare, leading to the prosperity of the continent.

In this article, we will look at SDG 8 – Decent Work and Economic Growth. Our focus is on selected 4IR technologies that can help Africa achieve economic growth.

According to the UN SDG Report 2021, economic growth is expected to return to pre-pandemic levels only in 2022 or 2023 for many countries. African countries have taken a great hit from the pandemic and the emerging technologies of 4IR can help their economies recover.

Growth of the ICT Sector in Africa

Elena Kvochko notes that ICT is not only one of the fastest-growing industries, which directly creates millions of jobs, but is also an important enabler of innovation and development. Africa has achieved significant growth in the ICT sector, especially in mobile phone technology. Many Africans can access financial, government, healthcare, and educational services online. Businesses can get financing to expand, and governments can collect more revenue from their citizens.

By investing in digital technologies such as artificial intelligence, big data, blockchain, cloud computing, IoT, etc., Africa can become self-sufficient, solve its problems, and actively participate in the global market.

Below are 5 4IR technologies that will help Africa achieve economic growth.

1.   Blockchain for Land Registration

Land registries need to maintain records of land, record change of ownership, and deal with resultant challenges. Patrick Mutabazi says that governments can harness blockchain technology to address the challenges that come with land registries. He goes on to say that the immutable and transparent nature of blockchain will curb forgery of land titles, create an unmodifiable history of land transactions and allow real-time verification of land ownership.

Example:

Ardhisasa is a new land record system in Kenya, launched in 2021. It ensures land purchases are genuine and legal, provides ease of access to information and land databases, and simplifies services. At the click of a button, Kenyan citizens can carry out land transactions online.

2.   IoT to Modernize Agriculture

Agriculture is essential for economic transformation, and modernizing it will help Africa achieve economic growth faster. One technology that will revolutionize agriculture is the Internet of Things (IoT). According to IoT For All, using smart agricultural technology, farmers have gained better control over the rearing of livestock and growing of crops. This has brought massive efficiencies of scale. The result is a higher income for poor farmers, increased productivity, lower food prices, and better health.

Example:

Robert Carlton-Shields, a South African farmer, has a macadamia nut farm. He turned to IoT to better manage his farm with the help of u-blox’s cost-effective, reliable, secure and low-power IoT connectivity. This has led to less stress on his Macadamia trees, saved on water consumption on the farm, eliminated the need for manual logging of data on the farm, etc.

3.   Drone Technology in Healthcare

Trivitron Healthcare notes that in most developing countries, a majority of people live in rural areas with little access to healthcare, yet they contribute more than half of their country’s GDP. One technology that can ensure those in African rural areas get the medical supplies they need is drone technology.

Example:

Doctors in rural Rwanda can order blood and medical supplies by text message, and a drone delivers them. This has shortened the delivery time of blood to remote areas of Rwanda and has saved many lives. The drone delivery system is a partnership between Zipline and the Rwandan government.

4.   Platform Economy for Decent Work

Wikipedia defines the platform economy as the economic and social activity facilitated by platforms. Millions of people globally use digital platforms for work in the gig economy, e.g. taxi drivers, food vendors, freelancers, among others. The platforms include Upwork, Fiverr, Uber, Jumia Food, etc. Digital platforms create opportunities for developing countries to provide decent work for their citizens.

Example:

Ajira is a digital platform in Kenya and is a government initiative driven by the Ministry of ICT, Innovations and Youth Affairs. Its purpose is to empower over one million people to access digital job opportunities. It offers training, various resources and provides links to other online working platforms.

5.   Cloud Computing for Digitization of Government Services

Digitization is key to implementing the UN Sustainable Development Goals and Africa’s Agenda 2063. Initiatives such as the African Continent Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) are pushing for governments to digitize to not only enable trade but positive economic growth.

One of the key enablers of government digital services is the cloud computing technology. All information is stored in the cloud using service providers, such as Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud, and Microsoft Azure.

Example:

Kenya’s eCitizen is a gateway to all government services. Kenyan citizens and foreign residents can apply for public services and pay via mobile money, debit cards, and eCitizen agents. A citizen can apply for a passport, visa, driving license, business registration, marriage registration, birth or death certificate.

Conclusion

For Africa to achieve economic growth, its governments need to provide an enabling environment for the widespread use of 4IR technologies. Digital skilling of government employees and citizens is necessary for the rollout of digital infrastructure. African countries need to incorporate 4IR technologies in their education systems to prepare their youthful populations for the future of work.

If you would like to know about the emerging technologies of 4IR, please get a copy of Understanding the 4th Industrial Revolution.

To gain Strategic 4IR skills, please register for the 4IR Foundation Course at the 4IR Academy.

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