Africa Must Digitalize to achieve Fourth industrial Revolution

ADDIS ABABA – Africa must develop high computing capacity to not to miss out on the 4th industrial revolution, said Paul Tiyambe Zeleza, a Professor at Case Western Reserve University in U.S., speaking at the annual Adebayo Adedeji Lecture session.

Prof Zeleza was a key speaker at the annual Adebayo Adedeji Lecture which was launched by the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) in 2014 to recognize Prof Adedeji’s intellectual contributions to development and service to Africa.

This year, the lecture was held on the theme: ‘The role of higher education and human capital development in Africa’, featuring the Malawian scholar Prof Zeleza as keyspeaker



“Digitisation is a must”

The fourth industrial revolution, Prof Zeleza said, is an agenda for everyone as it will transform all sectors from education to technology and health. 

“Africa was marginalized in the previous three industrial revolutions. The continent should ensure it’s not left behind in the fourth industrial revolution,” he said.

“Africa must promote digitalization, rethink capital expenditure, and develop a holistic online curriculum system to achieve its economic, digital transformation,” he said. “We must walk the talk on constructing integrated, inclusive, innovative and sustainable developmental institutions.”

The fundamental structures of African economies, he said, have remained the same since colonial times. In fact, dependency on primary commodity production and export has increased.



The five historic and humanistic agendas of African nationalism that were fundamental to Prof Adebayo include decolonization; nation-building; development; democracy; and regional integration, noted Prof Zeleza. 

To understand human capital, he said there are three dimensions to consider: Africa’s demographic explosion, policies adopted by governments to build social economic systems and the imperative to build capabilities

“Population growth can become an asset or a bridge on development depending on its evolving structure and quality of human capital,” he said. He also highlighted the need to close the disjuncture between policy conception and execution. 

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