OBWOGO: Join the Discussion—The Digital Revolution Is Here. Can Africans Leapfrog Digital Tech to Change the Transfer and Origins of wealth?

Dr Subiri Obwogo • 2 May 2019

During the launch of my book, the Diary of a Poultry Farmer, which took place last Saturday at the Parklands Baptist Church, the guest speaker, Professor Bitange Ndemo, explored the notion of the Fourth industrial revolution and how it’s changing how we live, work, and relate to one another.

4th Industrial Revolution

He explained that the first industrial revolution between 1760 and 1820 relied on steam engine power to mechanise production (see figure above). The second (1820-1900) and the third (1900s) were powered by electricity and computing to create mass production and automate production respectively. The fourth one which started in 2017 is blurring the line between physical, biological and digital spheres and encompasses artificial intelligence, robotics, Internet of Things, nanotechnology, biotechnology, energy storage, quantum computing and machine learning.

He concluded that one way Africa is going to make progress on technologies such as artificial intelligence, block chain, or machine learning is not by understanding what they are but by asking this question, “How can it help make life easier?”

For example, precision farming improves efficiency and involves microdosing of inputs such as water, fertiliser or pesticides to plants.

If you ask me, it’ll require that a substantial number of people change their mindsets about what we can achieve with these technologies.

How can Africans leapfrog digital technologies like artificial intelligence, IoT and robotics in order to change the transfer and origins of wealth as we did with digital mobile technologies?