Building Digital Capacities for Inclusive and Sustainable Industrialisation in Africa
The convergence of digital technologies and the manufacturing sector has been proceeding at an unprecedented pace over the past decade, leading to advanced innovations such as Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, 3D printing, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) inter alia disrupting the global industrial landscape. The economic gains associated with this shift are enormous, with the UNIDO Industrial Development Report 2016 estimating the increase in added value at between USD 16 and 35 trillion per annum by 2025. However, the advanced manufacturing landscape remains severely lopsided, with the UNIDO Industrial Development Report 2020 finding that just four economies (those of the United States, China, Japan and Germany) account for some 77% of advanced innovation patents globally, while 88 economies in the Global South play little or no role in the global advanced technology sector, either as users or consumers. Africa is particularly concerned with these growing inequalities for a number of reasons, as it is home to the majority of the world’s Least Developed Countries and faces a number of legacy issues preventing easy access to the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), most notably in terms of digital infrastructure.