Across Africa's higher education sector there is an awareness that the fourth industrial revolution is here. Educators now have a tremendous responsibility to prepare the people and organisations of the continent for a time of rapid change.
It can be argued that in the time of Industry 4.0 the stakes are higher in Africa than anywhere else in the world. Africa's economic development has been accelerated by an ability to harness technology to leapfrog developmental steps in multiple industries. However, in a continent where many places have never seen the benefits of Industry 3.0, there is a danger of many being left behind as the demands of industry no longer match the skills available in the workforce.
Technology has the power to uplift millions of Africa. Similarly, it carries the threat of leaving millions more unemployed and locked out of the global economy.
How is the higher education sector preparing young Africans for an uncertain future? And how can Africa ensure it remains globally relevant in the fourth industrial revolution?
Botswana has been one of the fastest growing economies in the world since a turn of the century slump, being praised by the African Development Bank for sustaining one of the largest economic booms. As the country looks to diversify its economy from its mineral focus President Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi lays out what his government is doing to ensure investors are welcomed to the country.
"Institutions of higher learning must remind themselves that industries are profit-making entities. Our job is to demonstrate our worth or end up becoming redundant. If we cannot provide the services that the sector requires because they doubt our delivery or standards, they will seek out other institutions of learning. We must, therefore, understand our industries so that we can identify gaps that if filled, will make them more substantial profits. We have identified some issues in the mining industry and come up with solutions.
Our research successes in the mining industry have helped us build great partnerships that further our agenda. Universities must step away from having an entitled attitude when dealing with industry and instead develop their value proposition."
There are a few critical things about doing business in Africa. One of them is you can’t show up with a preconception that everyone is corrupt, and you must be unethical to do business. In our many years of operation, we have done business successfully without feeling the need to do anything underhand. Secondly, any foreign investor that does not feel confident enough to go at it by themselves would do well to partner with a local player and move through them. Investors must also have patience because though opportunities exist, many industries are still at their infancy, and they might struggle to find the competencies they require.