Africa ready to surpass developed countries in 4IR, says AfDB

additive amnufacturingAfrica is set to outdo the achievements of the developed world in Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), according to Stefan Nalletamby, acting vice-president for the private sector, infrastructure and industrialisation complex at the African Development Bank (AfDB)

Nalletamby said this at a seminar hosted by the AfDB at its headquarter in Abidjan.

“Any big city in Africa is pretty much indistinguishable from the rest of the world, with its mix of fibre, 3G, 4G and even 5G,” said Nalletamby.

“Our goal is not to match our peers in developed countries but to surpass them...The AfDB is ready to walk the talk and lead the efforts for the digital transformation of the continent,” Nalletamby added.

The speech was followed by a presentation of a groundbreaking report titled “The potential of the Fourth Industrial Revolution in Africa.” The report, funded by the AfDB and carried out by the Technopolis Group, was launched in November at the Africa Investment Forum.

In 2019, approximately 6,500 technology start-ups were identified on the continent, among which around ten per cent develop applications that characterise the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Francie Sadeski, partner and lead in emerging markets at Technopolis, commented, “The figures exceed forecasts and indicate that the basis for Africa’s growth into the fourth industrial revolution is already there,” she said during a presentation on the report.”

According to the report, venture capital of more than US$100mn was invested in African Internet of Things (IoT) start-ups by 2019, making it by far the most attractive 4IR technology for investors on the continent. The market is projected to reach a value of US$12.6bn by 2021 in Africa and the Middle East.

Around US$47mn was invested in additive manufacturing in Africa by 2019, according to the report. The market is estimated to reach US$1.3bn by 2022. In addition, artificial intelligence (AI) start-ups and blockchain start-ups attracted US$17.5mn and US$14.9mn in 2019 respectively.

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