How will Africa benefit from WEF’s fourth industrial revolution drive?


The World Economic Forum kicked off in Switzerland this week with Elsie Kanza, WEF’s Head of Africa, calling for improved regional involvement in technological advancement.

This year’s WEF summit is being held under the theme; The Fourth Industrial Revolution.

“The importance of this theme this year is that we are seeing new technologies emerging that are quickly transforming the way we run businesses and governments,” Kanza told CNBC Africa.

She said the recent entry of players such as Uber in the African market called on regional leaders to have a  better understanding of how these technologies work.

“The importance of all leaders gathering especially those from Africa is to make a contribution on how they are coping with technologies and also learn what is happening.”

Some of the regional leaders attending are South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma, Rwanda’s Paul Kagame and several central bank governors.

Kanza added that WEF hopes that at the end of the week leaders will leave with a much clearer picture of what is happening and what kind of changes they need to make to prepare their people so that they do not get caught unaware.

“We have a number of projects and initiatives happening in Africa. Some of the projects assist in sharing on progress made at regional level and also galvanising support from the rest of the world,” she added.

“The future of the internet challenge initiative is one of the focal points that WEF is earmarking as far as Africa is concerned.”

Access to internet remains one of the challenges plaguing Africa.

About four billion people are not networked with a majority of those people in Africa.

“There is need to connect rural areas, women and youth. You cannot do much without dealing with energy.  We are going to have discussions on off grid solutions and renewable energy.”