The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) is often seen as a way for Africa to skip a couple of the previous messy revolutions and step onto the stage alongside the rest of the First World.

Certainly, technology is taking off in parts of Africa, bringing inventive and inspired solutions to the continent’s unique problems.  But is this as great as it seems on the surface? Is Africa ready for this leap or will it create problems of its own?

Digital transformation needs the support of government, the private sector, entrepreneurs, investors and society as a whole. Without buy-in from all, there is a risk that technological advancement stalls, or benefits only a few and leads to a deeper divide between the rich and poor.

So while South Africa is doing ear surgery with 3D-printed bones, Kenya creates an innovative cellphone banking platform, Rwanda experiments with drones and electric cars, and the Congo rolls out an AI Research Center… what about the rest? As exciting as these projects are, many in Africa still lack access to clean water, electricity, good roads and healthcare. And many fear that AI and robotics will lead to further job losses on a continent already suffering from severe unemployment.


African governments need to draft policies and plans to make sure that the 4IR benefits all. They need to educate their people in using and creating new technologies. Coding, blockchain and robotics need to be covered in school curriculums.

Investors needs to find the golden opportunities, and trust that policies will protect their money. The general populous needs to develop trust in the “new”, and in the abilities of their own people to create and develop these novel and strange ideas in-house.

The Africa Tech Week conference is currently taking place in Cape Town, South Africa. As per their website, “it focuses on educating South Africa and other African countries on the challenges and opportunities to be gained by their drafting appropriate plans and policies for the 4th Industrial revolution.”

It will bring together the leaders, policymakers, bright sparks, investment companies and decision-makers who need to work together to ensure “tech in Africa” is a huge step forward for all. Africa Tech Week will also recognize and reward companies on the continent that have demonstrated excellence in the area of innovative product development.

Aspire Technologies will be attending. We’ll update you on what we see as the highlights in the next blog post.

And we are also proud to announce that both Aspire Solutions and Aspire owner and operations director, Mike Steyn are award finalists, for the AI Technology Award and Tech Leader of the Year Award respectively.