5 Top Ways 4IR Can Eradicate Poverty in Africa Fast

The Relationship between 4IR and SDG #1 “No Poverty”

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Today’s post is a continuation of the one on 4IR and Sustainability.

Africa has lagged in previous industrial revolutions and the coming of 4IR gives it a chance to catch up. The question now is: will it be a key player in the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR)? 4IR can eradicate poverty in Africa fast if the continent can roll out 4IR technologies on a large scale.

The poverty rate in Africa was on the decline from 56% in 1990 to 41% in 2015, according to a UN report. The UN SDG Report 2021 says that COVID-19 has led to the first rise in extreme poverty. 119-124 million people globally were pushed back to extreme poverty in 2020.

The World Bank notes that Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest poverty rate – currently at 40%. Njuguna Ndung’u and Landry Signé say that the spread of digital technologies can empower the poor. And this is through access to information, job opportunities, and services that improve the living standards of the poor. An example is M-Pesa, which has transformed the lives of the underserved in Kenya, including women who are important drivers for sustainable poverty eradication.

Below are 5 top ways 4IR can eradicate poverty in Africa fast.

1.   Drones and Machine Learning can Improve Agricultural Livelihoods and Eradicate Poverty in Africa

70% of the poor in the world live in rural areas. Drones and machine learning can provide solutions to eradicate poverty in rural Africa.

Farmers use drones and machine learning in Precision Agriculture. This type of agriculture uses new technologies to increase crop yields and profitability. It also lowers the amount of inputs needed to grow the crops.

Alan R. Earls says a drone is an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) and is essentially a flying robot. It has an onboard sensor and GPS.

SAS Institute defines Machine learning as “a method of data analysis that automates analytical model building. It is a branch of artificial intelligence based on the idea that systems can learn from data, identify patterns and make decisions with minimal human intervention.”

Example:

Charis UAS in Rwanda offers drone services to farmers for Precision Agriculture. It does crop damage assessment, spraying and protection, drone farm surveying, among others.

Data from drones goes into computers and is analyzed through machine learning. Farmers can spot potential problems or predict harvest yields.

ICT solutions are also equipping farmers with avenues to sell their farm produce and improve their livelihoods. Maano virtual farmers’ market (VFM) is an app-based e-commerce platform in Zambia. It helps small-scale farmers interact with traders and buyers on their phones. They can negotiate for fair prices and deals.

Precision Agriculture ensures food security and eliminates hunger; it also helps people escape poverty.

2.   Using the Internet of Things (IoT) to Eradicate Poverty and Hunger in Africa

The Internet of Things (IoT) is being used to eradicate poverty in Africa while dealing with SDG #2 – “Zero Hunger.”

Oracle defines the Internet of Things as “the network of physical objects (things) that are embedded with sensors, software, and other technologies for the purpose of connecting and exchanging data with other devices and systems over the internet.”

Example:

IoT provides solutions that can eradicate poverty and hunger in Africa. Vodafone, in collaboration with Project Healthy Children, set up the Sanku-PHC initiative.

Sanku uses a dosifier to provide nutrients in small rural mills in Africa. Its aim is to provide fortified flour to millions of people. The dosifier helps millers add critical nutrients to flour in a sustainable way.

In partnership with Vodafone, the Sanku dosifiers have cellular-enabled technology. The project workers can keep track of the dosifiers in real-time on their devices. They get alerts when a machine needs fixing or restocking of nutrients. The technology is currently working in Tanzania, Rwanda, Kenya, Malawi and Mozambique.

3.   The Use of 3D Printing to Provide Access to Education and Low-cost Housing to the Marginalized

3dprinting.com defines 3D printing as a process of making three dimensional solid objects from a digital file. The objects are made through an additive process where successive layers of material are added until the object is created.

Companies are using 3D printing technology to create affordable housing around the world. 3D printing lowers the cost of building a house. It takes about 24 hours to print a house.

Example:

14Trees accelerates the provision of affordable housing in Africa through 3D printing. It has built the first 3D printed school and house in Malawi.  3D printing of schools will deal with the shortage of schools and classrooms in rural areas.

With 3D printing, Africa can build more schools within a short time. This will increase the number of children who can access education in rural Africa. Education empowers people with the skills and knowledge they need to prosper.

3D printing of houses is a solution that can provide low-cost housing in Africa and get rid of slum areas.

4.   Combining Satellite Internet Connectivity and E-learning to Make Education Affordable and Accessible in Rural Africa

For Africa to eradicate poverty, it must look at how to provide internet access to rural areas. Internet connectivity makes e-learning possible for those in remote locations. It enables them to access quality education.

The use of satellite internet is a top way to provide internet connectivity to rural areas. Rachel Oaks says it is wireless internet beamed down from satellites orbiting the earth. It is often the only way to get online for many rural homes and businesses.

Example:                                    

iMlango is a comprehensive educational technology programme in Kenya. It provides personalized learning and measures performance for each child. It uses satellite internet and an e-learning platform to provide learning solutions to schools.

iMlango supports 180,000 pupils, including 70,000 marginalized girls in 240 schools. Students in rural areas can access quality education like those in urban areas.

Governments can speed up the adoption of 4IR technologies in the long term. They can do this by ensuring they incorporate 4IR in the national learning system. The South African government is launching a coding and robotics curriculum in schools.  This means that students in marginalized areas can learn more about 4IR. This will also deliver SDG #4 – “Quality Education.”

5.   Use of TV Airwaves (White Space Technology) to Provide Internet Access to Youth and Small Businesses in Rural Areas

Africa must increase internet connectivity to roll out programmes to eradicate poverty fast. According to an article on the World Economic Forum website, 25% in sub-Saharan Africa have access to the internet compared to the global average of 50%.

A way to provide low-cost internet to rural areas is by using White Space technology. According to Tech Republic, white space is the unused broadcasting frequencies in the wireless spectrum. Television networks leave gaps between channels for buffering purposes. The white space is like what is used for 4G and can deliver widespread broadband internet.

Example:

Mawingu Networks is a company in Kenya that provides public WiFi hotspots in rural Kenya. This ensures that the youth and entrepreneurs have access to important information. The youth can access online working opportunities and do online courses. Mawingu Networks uses TV white spaces and other radio technologies to provide internet.

The use of White Space technology will provide equal opportunities to the youth and entrepreneurs in rural and urban areas. This will also deliver SDG #10 – “Reduced Inequalities.”

Conclusion

The 4IR technologies listed above can eradicate poverty in Africa fast if rolled out on a large scale. African governments can provide an enabling environment for innovators of poverty eradication programs. Africa is definitely making great strides in participating in this 4th Industrial Revolution. Education on 4IR needs to be prevalent in the continent. It will empower Africans to come up with solutions that will eradicate poverty in Africa fast.

If you would like to know more about 4IR, please get a copy of Understanding the 4th Industrial Revolution by Evelyn Ngatia. It is available in e-book and Print.

If you would like to gain Strategic 4IR Skills, you can take the flagship course at the 4IR Academy. You will get a high-level understanding of the entire 4IR landscape and its applications. The course will teach you how to choose the right technical 4IR skills to pursue in-depth.

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