The misconceptions associated with revolution did not begin today – and may not end anytime soon; it is often confused to mean a dangerous conflagration that snowballs sequentially into an uncontrollable paroxysm. The Industrial Revolutions suffer the same fate and has given rise to propaganda championed by various schools of thought who propagate the falsehood that Africa is disadvantaged in the face of the Fourth Industrial Revolution just like those before it.
From time, the world in juxtaposition to evolution of production has been partitioned into dispensations which were termed ‘Industrial Revolutions’. The First Industrial Revolution achieved mechanized production through the use of water and steam power. During the Second, mass production was introduced through electric power; and the Third – on which the present built on, accomplished automated production through the use of electronics and Information Technology (IT).
We are in an era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution – a dispensation which births the Africa of my dreams; it is a new chapter for the world and disrupts the norms especially in the area of industrialization. This Industrial Revolution fundamentally changes everything about us as individuals and a people. It evolves with the speed of light and we seem to be following through at a linear velocity, as it appears our DNA was wired before hand for this.
Artificial Intelligence is studying human behavioral patterns and telling us more about ourselves, our decisions and choices; we have been introduced to self driving cars, automated investment software, 9D television, retina identification and so much more. The Fourth affects not just production but people, businesses, government and creates a future without limits - if you can imagine it, then it is possible! But it comes with a catch; Professor Klaus Schweb - founder of the World Economic Forum, started what appears to be the most defining postulation of the Fourth Industrial Revolution that is dawns upon us “a time of greater promise - or greater peril”
This brings us to what I believe is the very essence and paradox of the Fourth Industrial Revolution itself – people! To harness the opportunities of this dispensation, we must empower people with right values in working towards building a future that satisfies us collectively, not demographically - and this perhaps is the greatest opportunity for Africa’s industrialization.
Although it is greatly publicized that the Fourth Revolution exposes Africa’s deficiencies and drags her down the ladder of industrial sustainability, I beg to disagree because this dispensation pays no respect to historical precedence, quality of infrastructure or status quo. The current lack of infrastructure and the gaps which previous revolutions exposed may well become the leverage Africa possess to gasp the opportunities of the Fourth Revolution, while others struggle with the shackles of previous foundations, bad investments and unlearning processes.
Furthermore, Africa is not new to exceeding expectation and defiling norms and this won’t be different. A few years ago, there were legitimate concerns of Africa been left behind in the transition from landline phones to mobile phones. This was based on hypothesis that Africa’s inability to adopt the fixed telephone system and power grids in more than fifty years after colonialism will hinder her evolution into the new wireless mobile era. But today, how African went from zero landline phones to almost everyone owning a mobile phone surpasses logic.
The African of my dreams is one of inclusive industrial growth where no one is left behind; a resource centre for value, talent, potential and the next generation of creative thinkers. The search light will fall on Africa for answers because the critical factor of production in the Fourth Revolution is not water, steam, electric power, electronics or IT - but talent and creativity, these will be greatly sort after without consideration of antecedence, race or precedence.
I agree that Africa is not the trigger of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, but I cannot agree more that the barrel of industrial advancement which this Revolution offers is positioned towards her to release opportunities that equal her potentials in birthing The Africa of our Dreams.