World Economic Forum on Africa discusses Industry 4.0 on the continent

With one day left of the World Economic Forum on Africa, the key theme of inclusive growth within the Fourth Industrial Revolution had been explored by leaders in business, government, and civil society.

With the ink only just dry on the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement, a focus of the conference was closer regional integration on the continent.

With barriers to intra-continental trade lowering, economic growth has the potential to lift the entire populace, instead of the inequality seen with untapped globalisation.

For attendees, the issues to overcome included corruption, providing healthcare to all, along with protection of workers in temporary employment.

“The World Economic Forum brings top leaders together to create the conditions for socio-economic investment to happen. Africa, like all regions of the world, faces great challenges. For the region to prosper in an increasingly globalized world, it needs transparent governance, competitive economies and peaceful societies. This systemic change can only be achieved through multistakeholder collaboration,” said Elsie Kanza, head of Africa at the Forum.

During the Forum a number of initiatives will be launched, including the Africa Growth Platform, which aims to speed up development of start-ups and SMEs, the Africa Risk Resilience Platform, a public-private collaboration to prepare for, mitigate, and prevent climate and disease-related disasters, and the Africa E-Commerce Agenda, which could connect businesses in Africa with global buyers and suppliers.

The lifting of tariffs on the continent, according to the IMF, will increase trade in the region by 15-25 per cent in the medium-term future. With the economic potential of Africa yet to be realised, the growth of economies within the continent gives promise to its potential as an emerging market. Bringing along those often left behind by economic development, such as women, the poorer communities, and minorities, will be key to the success of the overall continent.