By Emmanuel Elebeke
STAKEHOLDERS at the fifth edition of the Digital Africa Conference and Exhibition 2017, have said that Africa may not catch up with the rest of the world in terms of technology advancement if the continent fails to buy into the Fourth Industrial Revolution, 4IR, in order to leapfrog development.
They lamented that Africa’s missing out of the first, second and third revolutions due to ignorance and poor awareness of her leaders, spelt doom.
They warned that the continent may remain underdeveloped and continue to lag behind if the leaders fail to recognize the importance of the moment and seize the opportunity provided by the exponential technologies that are presently unleashing the 4IR, to leapfrog stages in development.
The conference ,which attracted the acting President, Minister of Communications, director generals of agencies and captains of industry, was themed: The Fourth Industrial Revolution: Getting Africa Ready.
In his address, Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo said the Federal Government is committed to encouraging home grown ICT companies to world standard by providing policies that will help them thrive.
Indigenous ICT companies
He expressed concern over the inability of African or Nigerian technology companies to measure up with Apple, Samsung, Huawei, Facebook, HP and other renowned IT firms, despite the huge potentials surrounding them.
Osinbajo, who was represented by the Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu said Federal government has taken a deliberate stand to sign the Executive Order No. 003 in support of Local Content in procurement by Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Federal Government of Nigeria.
The local content order states that all MDAs of the federal government shall grant preference to local manufacturers of goods and service providers in their procurement process for a number of items including food and beverages, motor vehicles, information and communication technology products, pharmaceuticals, construction materials, furniture and fittings, among others.
Osinbajo said the National Information Technology Development Agency, NITDA, had been charged to put measures in place to ensure strict compliance by ministries, departments and agencies to the Executive Order in support of Local Content in IT procurement.
For him, it was a mistake that Africa failed to take part in the first to the third phases of industrial revolutions and called for collaborative effort among relevant stakeholders to enable Africa take full advantage of the ongoing digital revolution.
He said, “Africa did not take part in the first, second and the third industrial revolutions. We are now enlightened and aware of the coming revolution and must take advantage of the fourth revolution. As a country, we must position ourselves to leverage the benefits provided by the coming era to provide the much needed solution to our struggle.
“I am of the opinion that taking full advantage of this will call for collaborative efforts in a PPP basis between the government, private sector, and well-meaning individuals.” Osnbajo added.