MAN­U­FAC­TUR­ING

Bridg­ing the Man­u­fac­tur­ing Gap

Africa Outlook - - Contents -

Tech­no­log­i­cal trans­for­ma­tion cre­ates nu­mer­ous op­por­tu­ni­ties in African man­u­fac­tur­ing

As Africa’s most re­mote coun­try, the Cen­tral African Repub­lic (CAR) is al­most com­pletely lack­ing in tech­no­log­i­cal and in­fras­truc­tural con­nec­tions to the coun­tries sur­round­ing it and even fur­ther afield.

Al­though the coun­try’s cap­i­tal, Ban­gui, has rel­a­tively fast in­ter­net and us­able mo­bile re­cep­tion, it has missed out on many of the tech­no­log­i­cal phe­nom­ena that have come Africa’s way over the years. This has had a direct im­pact on in­dus­try de­vel­op­ments, man­u­fac­tur­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties and the gen­eral in­fras­truc­tural devel­op­ment.

The rest of Africa and in par­tic­u­lar sub-Sa­ha­ran Africa are on an up­ward tra­jec­tory when it comes to tech­nol­ogy-driven de­vel­op­ments, with trans­for­ma­tions oc­cur­ring that are cre­at­ing nu­mer­ous op­por­tu­ni­ties.Sus­tain­able man­u­fac­tur­ing

De­vel­op­ments to the man­u­fac­tur­ing in­dus­try in Africa have never at­tracted as much attention as they are cur­rently, espe­cially with the 50th an­niver­sary of the cre­ation of the Or­gan­i­sa­tion of African Unity - now known as the African Union - and the vision put in place through Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want.

The as­pi­ra­tions laid out within the doc­u­ment clearly out­line the pre­dicted at­tempts to unify in­dus­tries in or­der to make the best of Africa and its re­sources in the fu­ture.

In or­der to achieve a pros­per­ous Africa based on sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ments, the con­ti­nent will need to be­come in­te­grated and peo­ple-driven to move for­ward as an in­flu­en­tial global player and part­ner.

At present the con­ti­nent is wit­ness­ing a shift in its most pros­per­ous re­sources, mov­ing from min­ing to man­u­fac­tur­ing. How­ever, the sup­port needed to en­sure that this move­ment is a suc­cess lies within tech­nol­ogy and util­is­ing the many new pos­si­bil­i­ties that it brings.

The chal­lenges that the con­ti­nent will in­evitably face dur­ing this pe­riod of change can eas­ily be over­come, al­though en­hance­ments to in­fra­struc­ture and hu­man cap­i­tal will be re­quired along­side em­brac­ing new tech­nol­ogy.

New pos­si­bil­i­ties

There is an end­less ar­ray of pos­si­bil­i­ties avail­able when it comes to tech­nol­ogy and the doors it will open for Africa’s man­u­fac­tur­ing in­dus­try.

Per­haps the first demon­stra­tion of the pos­i­tive im­pact that tech­nol­ogy could have on the con­ti­nent ar­rived 10 years ago with the wel­com­ing of mo­biles, and within a short space of time mil­lions of peo­ple were us­ing them.

Fast for­ward a decade and mo­bile phones are just the tip of the ice­berg for the con­ti­nent, with new tech­nolo­gies be­ing used to solve many of Africa’s prob­lems. Al­though there have been massive leaps for­ward when it comes to the pro­grammes be­ing used to aid com­pa­nies and projects, there are still fun­da­men­tal is­sues to be dealt with on the con­ti­nent. For ex­am­ple, it is well known that there are hun­dreds of mil­lions of peo­ple in Africa with­out power and safe drink­ing wa­ter, there­fore it is all about pri­ori­tis­ing and plan­ning for fu­ture devel­op­ment.

Steady devel­op­ment

It is be­com­ing in­creas­ingly clear that the poverty gaps cur­rently seen in Africa could be less­ened by tech­nol­ogy, and the same can be said of the gaps in in­dus­tries such as man­u­fac­tur­ing where in­creased ef­fi­ciency is des­per­ately needed.

Along­side the up­take in ef­fi­cien­cies in man­u­fac­tur­ing, the use of tech­nol­ogy in schools is mak­ing teach­ing more ef­fec­tive while also ready­ing the next gen­er­a­tion. In a se­lec­tion of schools, teach­ers now have the abil­ity to work from an elec­tronic tablet which en­ables them to care­fully plan their lessons.

Fol­low­ing in this vein, com­pa­nies all over Africa will be able to bridge the gaps in their in­dus­tries through cor­rect pro­gram­ming and or­gan­i­sa­tion, aid­ing them in tak­ing the next steps for­ward to suc­cess­ful growth. Along­side in­dus­try growth, tech­nol­ogy is set to de­crease the size­able in­come gap be­tween Africa and the rest of the world, even through the most ba­sic first steps. Al­though in many parts of the con­ti­nent it is lack­ing in the func­tions of a 21st cen­tury econ­omy, it has the right building blocks in place to im­ple­ment change.

Is tech­nol­ogy the an­swer when it comes to strength­en­ing Africa’s man­u­fac­tur­ing in­dus­try and re­duc­ing its pro­duc­tiv­ity deficit in the near fu­ture? Writer: Phoebe Calver

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