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Africa 4.0: A vision for Africa

Saidah Nash Carter  SVP, Innovation – Africa

Saidah Nash Carter  SVP, Innovation – Africa

Realizing Africa's innovation potential and harnessing its power.

New transformative technology is at our fingertips. The challenge is that just as we somewhat wrap our heads around one thing, the landscape shifts again. In fact, it has been said that we are on the brink of the 4th Industrial Revolution – a technological revolution that will fundamentally alter the way we live, work, and relate to one another. In its scale, scope, and complexity, the transformation will be unlike anything we have experienced before and for those not paying attention, it will be very disruptive. However, for those with their fingers on the pulse – embracing this evolution is a remarkable chance to connect business with innovation, to improve efficiency and to drive social change.

In fact, this emergent era, is a great enabler for Africa. An era that could unlock the potential of these emerging technologies with use cases that benefit business and communities across the continent. It could also position Africa as a leader in this 4th industrial revolution and provide a platform for us to realize our true vision for the continent. An Africa 4.0 if you will!

Consider the following: Africa’s youth population is massive and ever more connected. According to the United Nations, in 2015, 226 million youth aged 15-24 live in Africa, accounting for 19% of the global youth population. By 2030, it is projected that the number of youth in Africa will have increased by 42%. What’s more, the middle class is growing and consumer expectations are shifting. Fundamental economic systems are fledgling and ripe for acceleration. Business-as-usual operating models are changing to connect with new customers and market opportunities.

The potential for digital-driven growth is massive. Just look at the growth of mobile on the continent. According to GSMA at the end of 2015, 46% of the African population subscribed to mobile services which is equivalent to more than half a billion people. Over the next 5 years an additional 168 million people will be connected by mobile – reaching 725 million unique subscribers by 2020. If you couple this digital growth with a mobile-first, and some would argue mobile-only continent; one that is void of restrictive legacy systems, then the opportunities are endless.

We just need to think creatively, embrace disruption and be smart about using technology to transform business and democratize opportunity. And that’s exactly where Africa’s potential lies.

To be sure, this is an ambiguous time – the crossroad between the past and the future – the risk and reward. We cannot truly predict how the future will unfold, but we can be prepared by being open to change and having the right conversations. By analyzing the data, opening up platforms, co-creating with like-minded customers, start-ups and universities and challenging the status quo, we open ourselves up for change, innovation and possibility – and that’s exactly what we at Thomson Reuters are doing. There is an evolution happening and we must accept and participate in it if we are to succeed and realize the vision of Africa we want to create.

So let’s take this journey together. As we know, innovation is about experimentation. Thomson Reuters is committed to partnering and experimenting with our customers and other thought leaders to make Africa 4.0 a reality. The importance of true partnership and co-creation in building solutions of the future cannot be underestimated. We are all change agents and together we can navigate the complexities and ensure that Africa can realize its true potential and take its rightful place in the global innovation arena.

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