Some people have chosen to take the pessimistic view that Africa will be left behind by the wave of technological revolution, while others take the naïve view assuming that artificial intelligence, digitization, robotics, self-driving cars and other disruptive technologies are things belonging to the Western and Asian world. However, we cannot afford to be naïve and myopic in our approach to the realities of the current world order.
I posted on Facebook the other day about a “Chinese factory that automated 90% of its human workforce with machines (from 650 employees down to only 60). This move led the company to a staggering 250% increase in productivity and a significant 80% drop in defects”
Some people then responded in the comment section saying robots are for Europe and Asia but not for Africa. And this is the kind of mindset I’m trying to impact and change with this post. The 4th Industrial Revolution is a global phenomenon. The robots are already here in Africa and the growth of their presence will continue exponentially. Most people depend only on the media for information/knowledge and whatever they don’t see consistently on the media, they tend to believe it doesn’t exist. Sadly, the media is not out to educate or empower anyone. The media has its own agenda and it’s not YOU. So, if you really want the truth about how the world works, you can’t depend on the media for that knowledge.
Five years ago, The African Robotics Network (ARN) launched a $10 Robot challenge to encourage students to produce their own robots. There are also over 20 African organizations encouraging participation in robotics.
According to CNN, ”Although robots in Africa are still in its infancy, with under 60,000 imports a year, the robotics industry in Africa is developing rapidly.”
A policy brief by the United Nations conference on trade and development reveals that “robots will take away two-thirds of jobs in developing countries.”
Another study from World Bank research, states that “more than half of jobs in parts of Africa are at risk of automation with Ethiopia leading the highest proportion globally at 85%.”
In Africa, robots are mining, controlling traffic, doing customer service and even fighting deadly diseases.
- In South Africa, Nedbank launched the first humanoid robot in one of their branches called Pepper that could possibly do away with 3 000 employees if the trend continues. No longer just the objects of fascination in science fiction, robots are beginning their invasion of banking even here in Africa.
- Vodacom, a South African mobile communications company, also decided to take their innovative ways to another level and have added a new member to their team, a humanoid robot also named Pepper.
- In Kinshasa, DRC, robots are already a part of everyday life. Eight foot tall, solar-powered ‘Robocops‘ have been brought in to direct traffic. These robots have eliminated the need for human traffic wardens as they can detect pedestrians and are designed to withstand all weather conditions.
- In Tanzania and Uganda, drones with sensors have replaced the need for some farm workers because of their ability to detect stress in plants, ten days before humans can.
- In South Africa, robots now replace humans to assess some unsafe depth of the country’s gold mines.
- The situation in Botswana closely mirrors that of South Africa. Robots are now employed to mine diamonds at depths that are unsafe for humans.
- In the wake of the 2014 Ebola crisis, Liberia took full advantage of the 5×5 foot robot, TRU-D to beat the deadly virus. TRU-D had the ability to disinfect rooms where Ebola patients were treated, a feat too risky for humans.
- Rwanda, a country where there is one doctor to every 16,046 people is building the world’s first drone airport to deliver medical and emergency supplies to its rural areas and much more
So, no one should assume Artificial intelligence, digitization and robotics are not for Africa because a five years old kid today, swiping on his/her parent’s smart phone will demand a much more convenient way of doing business in the next 15 to 30 years and that’s when Africa will begin to experience a real paradigm shift in cutting-edge technologies. Kids growing up in the digital world and playing with smartphones cannot survive in a brick and mortar environment. This transitioning is happening right now and right here in Africa. This means that the technological revolution and economy shift in Africa is impending and will happen faster than many are imagining. While it could maximize productivity and efficiency on a much larger scale, it will also massively affect employment. That’s why i am passionate about igniting human potential and empowering people to up-skill, innovate and recreate themselves.
Be on the look out for my
Upcoming Book “Disrupt Yourself Or Be Disrupted” where i talk about the impact of technology on employment and how you can develop and position yourself for this transitioning.
I am Nicky Verd
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