By Jacques du
in brief: The Fourth Industrial Revolution is now underway
and is set to forever change the way in which economies relate to each other in the global market. This is
a vital opportunity for the rapidly developing African economies to assert
themselves as vital hubs in the international manufacturing sector.
What is the fourth industrial revolution?
The 4th industrial revolution, otherwise known as the ‘Digital Industrial revolution’ or ‘Industry 4.0’, or simply ‘4IR’ is a broad term used to describe the ongoing global conversion of labour-intensive manufacturing processes toward incorporating robotics, artificial intelligence (AI), big data, customer service personalisation and other forms of digital innovation, pointing to a future where the knowledge economy and the manufacturing sector are in effect, inseparable. Like earlier industrial revolutions, those quickest to utilise these new technologies will reap the most benefit. Some estimates place the profits reaped by early adopting firms at almost 120%, with a measly 10% for those who only adopt these new technologies later on. Far from being at a disadvantage, Africa’s lack of legacy infrastructure might prove to be a key ingredient in securing its industries’ positions in the new global economy that the 4IR will bring about. Industrial growth in this context can be viewed through two key focus areas: the conventional development of an industrial base and the fostering of a local knowledge economy.
By Tertius Mynhardt Jacobs
Analysis in brief: With 19 of Africa’s 55 countries hosting national elections, 2019 promises to be an interesting year filled with hope and change. Among these elections, there are a few that stand out. South Africa’s election, in particular, is of great significance to the Southern African region and the continent more broadly. By relating the proposed policies of major political contenders to key challenges confronting South African democracy, this analysis seeks to inform readers of dominant voting options and the content of dominant parties’ manifestos.
NOTE TO READER:
This paper does not intend to specify which political party is the overall ‘best party’. Instead, it has drawn from the manifestos of each party to gauge the stance of South Africa’s top 12, assessing how they differ and how well prepared they are to tackle the issues that are dividing South Africans. With this in mind, the reader is urged to explore the manifestos in which they express interest to truly understand who their preferred party is and how they intend to remedy South Africa’s array of challenges. Only then can one make an informed decision come election day.
Analysis in Brief: The destruction of a major port city
and loss of life in one of Africa’s biggest recorded storms may be the impetus
to create a continental authority to manage disasters that arrive with greater
power and frequency as a result of climate change.
The destruction Cyclone Idai wrought on the Southern African countries Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe in March 2019 claimed over 700 lives, obliterated Mozambique’s port city, Beira, and flooded 138,000 km²of crop land. Cholera became the immediate threat and diminished harvests are a mid-term eventuality. The response of the 13-state regional body, the Southern African Development Community (SADC), was very little given the scope of the calamity and when compared with the work and contributions of overseas aid organisations who immediately rushed in to assist. A SADC representative said the body was surprised by the cyclone’s power and was not prepared for the devastation unleashed.
By Dr. Mary Carman and Dr. Benjamin Rosman
Analysis in brief: Africa has the potential to be an active agent in the development of emerging technologies around artificial intelligence (AI) and not simply a place where these technologies are implemented. But in order to do so, it is necessary to think critically about where research attention in Africa should be focused, as well as how to guide the various aspects of research in a way that is sensitive to capabilities and interests specific to African peoples.
Research and development into emerging technologies around artificial intelligence (AI) is thriving the world over. African countries too are developing the capacity to contribute to this growing field. Indeed, Africa has the potential to take joint ownership of AI and not just be a playground where these technologies from elsewhere are implemented. For instance, the first major international machine learning conference in Africa – the International Conference of Learning Representations (ICLR) – will be held in Ethiopia in 2020, representing the first major opportunity for African researchers to attend a large conference on home soil and dramatically increase interaction between African and international researchers. But in order to take ownership and maximise a role for Africa, we need to think critically about how to guide the various aspects of research in a way that is sensitive to African capabilities and interests.
By Annamarie Bindenagel Šehović
Analysis in Brief: Global health security lies at the intersection of Europe and Africa, between inherited state-based intervention and a new regional, global approach. Given this, it is vital to redefine health security and it is imperative that this new definition include cross-border populations. Likewise, knowledge exchange in both definitional scope and political and experimental approaches across Africa and beyond is an important contributor to health security in a globalised world.
By James Hall
Analysis in Brief: The benefits of boosting the low rate of trade amongst African countries are undeniable. The countries signing on to the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) know this. However, inertia to break old trade barriers and against building value-added industries to replace foreign imports is the challenge to overcome.
As exemplified by AirRwanda’s increase in direct flights between Lusaka and Johannesburg, intra-African trade benefits all participating countries. For instance, Zambia benefits as an intermediary between South Africa and Zambia along one of Africa’s busiest air routes. Likewise, Ethiopian Airlines is currently expanding its African scope to derive similar benefits. However, more cross-border movement of trade is required to match aviation’s lead.
By Jacqueléne Coetzer
Analysis in brief: Due to increased economic growth and development, largely as a result of improved political stability, African exchanges offer great investment value for both African and foreign investors. Although there are still some difficulties to overcome to make African Exchanges more attractive to international investors, with the political will and dedicated efforts by governments and exchanges, these difficulties can be overcome.
Few people are aware of the business, economic and IT successes being achieved in Africa. Mauritius is poised to become Africa’s first high-income economy within the next 10 years and there are a number of other African countries that are working actively to achieve the same. The former-President of Botswana, Ian Khama, has famously remarked that Africa has the ability to solve its own problems and he was right.
By James Hall
Analysis in Brief: The world is engulfed in trade wars begun by the US for motives that are political and not economic. Africa has been shaken by threats of tariffs and loss of trade benefits. However, the unsettled trade landscape gives African countries an opportunity to expand their trade ties to their benefit.
Trade wars are roiling economies and international relationships in 2018 like never before. In the long term, African nations can come out ahead if they prioritise inter-African trade and carefully select foreign trade partners. African nations with important commodities to sell, from Mozambique’s natural gas and Nigeria’s oil to the Democratic Republic of Congo’s minerals and South Africa’s abalone shellfish, have never been in a better position to play one foreign trade partner off another. This is particularly true when it comes to realigning East versus West relations based on trade issues.
By James Hall
Analysis in brief: In East Africa, countries that were once bitter enemies have quickly patched animosities and now seek ways out of old impasses, with regional security and economic trade benefitting. The following article is based on information obtained by the author while undertaking a comparative study on African nations’ competitive statuses for clients of IOA. Other IOA research is also referenced.
Ethiopia’s economic miracle – becoming East Africa’s largest economy after a decade of 10% growth per annum – found its twin accomplishment in the political miracle of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s reformist government. He took over in April 2018 from hardliners that made Ethiopia one of East Africa’s most repressive governments, in stark contrast with the country’s progressive economic achievements. Ahmed has freed political prisoners, expanded the political space, and put in the past the record of the past few years that saw continuous States of Emergency, concentration camps and human rights abuses perpetuated against the largest ethnic group, the Oromo. As the world absorbed and applauded the domestic change, Ahmed charged into diplomatic movement to inform change, beginning with Eritrea.
By James Hall
Analysis in brief: Africa’s healthcare system stands to hugely advance with newly available technologies; but existing energy and transportation infrastructures must be improved to allow these innovations. This article is based on information obtained by IOA while undertaking a comparative study on African nations’ competitive statuses for clients of IOA.
Healthcare has always been a difficult social welfare objective to achieve throughout Africa. In addition to underdeveloped healthcare facilities, a largely rural population lives in areas unconnected by effective electric and water infrastructures and not serviced by capable road networks. A healthcare delivery revolution beckons – new technologies that allow Africa to ‘leapfrog’ past standard development patterns by bringing care to individuals via the internet and home visits.
By James Hall
The following article is based on information obtained by the author while undertaking a comparative study on African nations’ competitive statuses for clients of IOA. Other IOA research is also referenced.
Economic liberalisation, giving African consumers wider choices and cheaper goods and services through greater competition, is taking its time in the commercial aviation sector. Most African nations are signatories to Open Skies treaties that, if implemented, will allow African airlines to pass through African air spaces and land at African airports without having to pay heavy taxes for the privilege. This would make inter-Africa flying cheaper for passengers and increase passenger and freight volumes, also giving a boost to the tourism sector. However, African governments are rather fond of their tax revenues and are not implementing these agreements.