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‘Catch up’Games In Africa May Derail Industrialisation

by Dan Ngabonziza
3:25 pm
Discussants at a panel on Africa’s Fourth Industrial Revolution

Discussants at a panel on Africa’s Fourth Industrial Revolution

For Africa to move into its fourth industrialisation phase, it may require cleaning up its mess of playing catch-up games.

President Paul Kagame said the African countries should invest in human capacity of Africans and infrastructure as the only way to go.

“Africa should not still be playing catch-up, by the time the Fifth Industrial Revolution comes around,” President Kagame said while featuring on a panel on Africa’s Fourth Industrial Revolution at the ongoing World Economic Forum on Africa taking place in the capital Kigali.

Appearing on the same panel, the African Development Bank President, Akinwumi Adesina believes that it’s time Africa gets revolutionalised.

“We must revolutionise Africa, we lost over 3000 youth in the Mediterranean sea and need development dividend.”

Several sectors including; energy, education, technology and infrastructure have been cited at the panel discussion as requiring massive investment.

“Our hopes and ambitions for the future must be built in clear-headed realism,” Kagame said.

Akinwumi proposes that African leaders should put more efforts in connecting the continent to electricity, the 4th revolution will be realised.

“We can’t be industrialized without having access to electricity. African Development Bank has invested $12.5 billion in access to electricity on the continent in the next five years.”

He also said the continent still has a long way to increase digital transformation. For instance, he said, “Africa has less than 20% of access to broadband system.”

Experts suggest many developing markets require massive investment to move up to more advanced mobile technologies.

Statistics indicate that about 4 billion people, more than half of the world’s population, have no access to internet. Of this figure, only 22% of Africans access internet.

For President Kagame, Rwanda has been putting much efforts in broadband system, with 4000kms rolled across the country.

According to the ‘Internet for All’ report released in April, affordability of mobile phones and internet is a challenge for almost 13% of people worldwide who live below poverty line, and for those who find devices and access too expensive or do not perceive sufficient value for money from internet use.

While chairing a broadband meeting in Davos, Switzerland last year, Kagame said; “It’s about how we can invest and make it easy for the majority of the citizens of this world to access and be able to use broadband.

We have seen in many parts of the world how this has changed lives. The task for the distinguished members of the commission is to continue to grapple with some of these problems and enable us to make the world a better place.”

Rwanda has recently installed a $130 million high-speed internet (4G) connectivity.  ICT makes 8.5% of Rwanda’s economy with telecommunications alone contributing 3.5%, through enabling other sectors such banking, tourism and hospitality.

“Development is more than about money, it’s about real people and countless choices made every day,” Kagame said told the panel on Africa’s Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Meanwhile, Graca Machel the founder of the New Faces New Voices-a Pan-African advocacy group that focuses on expanding the role and influence of women in the financial sector.

“We are talking about infrastructure, but where are women? Inclusive of women is the way to go. Discussing women issues isn’t a favour, they form 50% of population. Inclusion is an imperative,” she said.

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