Africa must digitalize to achieve the 4th industrial revolution

Africa must develop high computing capacity to achieve the 4th industrial revolution, said Paul Tiyambe Zeleza, Associate Provost and Professor, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland Ohio.

The 4th industrial revolution, he noted, is an agenda for everyone as it will transform all sectors from education to technology and health.

Prof Zeleza was the key speaker at this year’s ECA Annual Adebayo Adedeji Lecture session at the 54th Africa’s Conference of Ministers of Finance, Economic Planning and Development (CoM2022) in Dakar, Senegal.



“Africa was marginalized in the previous three industrial revolutions and the continent should ensure it’s not left behind in the fourth industrial revolution,” said Prof Zeleza.

The 2022 Adebayo Adedeji Lecture was held on the theme: “The role of higher education and human capital development in Africa.

“Africa must promote digitalization, rethink capital expenditure, and develop holistic online curriculum system to achieve its economic, digital transformation. We must walk the talk on constructing integrated, inclusive, innovative and sustainable developmental institutions,” said Prof Zeleza.

The fundamental structures of African economies, he said, have remained the same since colonial times. In fact, dependency on primary commodity production and export has increased.



“The five historic and humanistic agendas of African nationalism that were fundamental to Prof Adebayo include decolonization; nation-building; development; democracy; and regional integration,” noted Prof Zeleza. He pointed out that to understand human capital, there are three dimensions to consider: Africa’s demographic explosion, policies adopted by governments to build social economic systems and the imperative to build capabilities

“Population growth can become an asset or a bridge on development depending on its evolving structure and quality of human capital,” he said. He also highlighted the need to close the disjuncture between policy conception and execution.

Said Adejumobi, ECA’s Director of Strategic Planning, Oversight and Results, said described the late ECA Executive Secretary, Adebayo Adedeji, as a visionary African leader and passionate believer in African integration and development. The annual lecture features distinguished personalities and scholars to address topics aligned with the theme of the conference of ministers.

While recognizing Prof Adebayo’s vision for Africa, the ECA director said, “Prof Adebayo played an instrumental role in the evolution of regional development thinking, policy and practice. He pioneered efforts towards the establishment of regional economic communities and the articulation of an alternative development paradigm for Africa.”

“Prof Adebayo’s long and distinguished academic, political and diplomatic career was marked by immense contributions to the development of Africa, with strong pan-African perspectives,” Said Mr Adejumobi.



The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) launched the annual Adebayo Adedeji Lecture in March 2014 to honour and recognize the intellectual contributions to development and service to Africa by Professor Adebayo Adedeji, a visionary African leader and a passionate believer in African integration and development.

Since then, each year the lecture has featured distinguished personalities and scholars who have addressed topics usually aligned with the main theme of the annual sessions of the Economic Commission for Africa.