It has been predicted that the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) has the potential to raise global income levels and improve the quality of life for populations around the world. In a keynote session at the African Continental Free Trade Area Strategy Workshop held in Lagos recently, the Chairman, MTN Nigeria Communications PLC, Dr. Ernest Ndukwe, OFR, highlighted the opportunities of the 4IR on the African continent.
While the first, second, and third industrial revolutions focused on Steam Engineering, Electrification and Assembly Line, and Computing Internet Nuclear Energy respectively, the 4IR is building on the third. The 4IR is characterized by a fusion of technologies that are blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres.
Highlighting the opportunities presented by the 4IR in Africa, Ernest Ndukwe asserts that the revolution represents a unique opportunity for African countries to leapfrog over development hurdles with the help of technology. Not forgetting the role that telecommunication companies play in the acceleration of the 4IR in Africa, Dr. Ndukwe elucidated on how MTN Nigeria is taking the lead on this.
The Nigerian telecommunications industry in 2020 has recorded an increase in National Broadband penetration, contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP), Traffic, Radio Latency, and others. MTN is leading on the tripartite levers for 4IR acceleration, which include Pervasive Broadband through advances in 5G, the Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), amongst other categories. Through innovations in these areas, the telecommunications company is at the forefront of enabling transformation through secure, high-speed connectivity and cloud solutions.
Apart from telecommunications companies, Dr. Ndukwe highlighted other drivers of 4IR on the African continent.
He mentioned that African policy makers and regulators would need to use a “united vision to seize opportunities as well as create incentives for technology adoption in national priority sectors like agriculture and energy.” He expounded on the roles of Business Associations, which include raising awareness and providing information about the potential and markets for technologies while also increasing investments in training. Dr. Ndukwe concluded that development partners would need to “finance projects on the impact of the 4IR on African economies and societies, support the creation of regional R&D centers and foster linkages with R&D centres.”