June 2017

No. 10855: Entrepreneurship, Education and the Fourth Industrial Revolution in Africa

The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) is impacting on the industrialization options for Africa inter alia through three interrelated sets of technologies, namely automation, additive manufacturing and the Industrial Internet. In this paper I set out the case for why Africa should industrialize. I then explore the opportunities and threats the 4IR pose for Africa. Threats include job-losses and the re-shoring of manufacturing to advanced economies. Among the opportunities are products-as-services, the sharing (collaborative) economy, and digital services and digital exports. These are markets that are currently underdeveloped in Africa but have substantial potential given Africa's geography, demography and on-going urbanisation. In order for the continent to benefit from the 4IR more needs to be done to improve entrepreneurship and education. A number of policy recommendations for 4IRcompatible entrepreneurship and education policies are made.