The World Economic Forum on Africa has just concluded in Cape Town, South Africa and having spent the last few days at the event, I am more convinced than ever, that technology has a powerful role to play in driving digital transformation forward.
Based on the theme of ‘Shaping Inclusive Growth and Shared Futures in the Fourth Industrial Revolution’, the forum served as a platform for business leaders, heads of state, non-profit organizations, academia and more – to come together to share their views on what the Fourth Industrial Revolution means for businesses and societies at large.
When we talk about the Fourth Industrial Revolution, we are already in it. As Professor Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum states, “The resulting shifts and disruptions mean that we live in a time of great promise and great peril. The world has the potential to connect billions more people to digital networks, dramatically improve the efficiency of organizations and even manage assets in ways that can help regenerate the natural environment, potentially undoing the damage of previous industrial revolutions. However, Schwab also has grave concerns: that organizations might be unable to adapt; governments could fail to employ and regulate new technologies to capture their benefits; shifting power will create important new security concerns; inequality may grow; and societies fragment.”
It’s clear that technology is reshaping industries and reinventing our future. The massive shift in the speed of business, the data it generates and access to technology in our daily lives, is what defines the fourth industrial revolution. As technology evolves, businesses and governments are adapting to face new challenges – from having strong policies and regulatory frameworks to implementing advanced digital infrastructure to support economic growth and stay competitive.
Keeping in line with the need to digitally transform, the World Economic Forum, together with the South African government, announced its Africa E-Commerce Agenda, to develop the e-commerce sector in the region. This eight-point plan includes putting in place a strong digital technology ecosystem that will enable e-commerce businesses to thrive. This is a good sign as technology continues to transform many of the fundamentals of commerce and production, while also removing barriers to economic participation.
There is also another aspect of digital transformation that is crucial to success and that is exploring how technology can transform societies. Every economy and country today, are looking for the technology skills and talent to succeed in a digital world. So, it was only natural that future skills development, workforce transformation and using technology to improve lives – were all key topics of discussion at #WEFAfrica19.
In summary, the World Economic Forum was an opportunity to connect with and hear from the world’s most foremost thinkers, who all understand the dramatic shifts that have been brought about by the Fourth Industrial Revolution. It also cemented my belief that while the rate of change in the digital age is daunting, it’s an incredibly exciting time for us to drive innovation forward and understand the opportunity that technology presents, to transform and drive positive impact across every sector and community in the world today.