Bridging the Manufacturing Gap
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.
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.
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