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Knowledge sharing to drive Industry 4.0 in developing economies

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The potential of Industry 4.0 may not be realised without knowledge-sharing to raise awareness about the challenges and opportunities in it.

This was the view of stakeholders at a conference titled, “Unlocking the Potential of Industry 4.0 for Developing Countries”, organised by the Ministry of Industry, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO).

Indeed, the fourth industrial revolution otherwise known as Industry 4.0, is characterised by emerging technologies. These include mobile connectivity, artificial intelligence, next-generation robotics, and 3D printing, supply chains, etcetera has victimised the manufacturing sector, thus necessitating new forms of collaboration that drive innovative value chains and business models that are condemning the traditional industrial patterns to oblivion.

Discussing the impact of the evolving concept of Industry 4.0 and its impact on developing countries, the stakeholders noted that efforts should be geared towards identifying good policies and strategies. These will contribute to the implementation of Industry 4.0 and will strengthen the regional coordination within Asia and the Pacific, as well as in developing economies.

On the sidelines of the Conference, Indonesian Minister of Industry, Airlangga Hartanto, and UNIDO Director General LI Yong, signed the revised Country Programme, which reaffirmed the partnership commitment between the Government of Indonesia and UNIDO, and which will help increase efficiency, effectiveness and funding possibilities.

It would be recalled that the former President of the United Republic of Tanzania, Benjamin William Mkapa, while delivering his keynote address at the yearly general meeting of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) recently, said Nigeria and other African countries will be making a grave mistake if they look at the development of industries in the world and think that they ought to follow a similar path that industrial economies have followed, and ignored areas where Africans have comparative advantage.

“As a start, it is important for Nigeria to pause for reflection and assess its own economic history and profile so as to determine its impact on its manufacturing sector growth or decline so far. Generally speaking, the future of manufacturing industry not only in Nigeria, but in Africa as a whole, is not that rosy as it is very uncertain.

“The structure of our economies portrays one undeniable fact, namely that the entry point to Africa’s industrialisation dreams is only through the primary sector using the resources that we have in abundance. We have the possibility of leap-frogging the developed world by designing industrial policies that do not replicate their mistakes but also hasten our industrialisation process.

“The only safeguard is that we should be careful and inquisitive enough to draw lessons from history and thence recalibrate our industrial development strategies basing on our domestic realities and global trends”.

He however identified four growth pillars as catalysts for accelerated growth of the manufacturing sector and they include, encourage youth and women entrepreneurship; continuous improvement of business environment; adaptation of technology; and adopting effective trade policies.

Despite security challenges in some places, he expressed optimism that Nigeria’s demographic advantages in terms of population size and political stability offers the nation a promising future only if the nation puts its act together domestically and remain on the lookout internationally.


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