The Fourth Industrial Revolution, or Industry 4.0 if you will, is here. Buzzwords such as blockchain, artificial intelligence and robotics are smart technologies changing the face of industrial processes and production globally. The question is, how are African countries positioning themselves to harness the opportunities and benefits of acquiring and adapting new technologies into their production processes?
Rwanda understands the urgency and speed of this technological age, and that the only path to industrial growth is through development and integration of science, technology and innovation into enterprises. This is evidenced in Rwanda's Vision 2050 and the Seven Year Government Programme (2017-24), both national frameworks that aim to establish Rwanda as a globally competitive knowledge-based economy and create 214,000 decent jobs annually.
Made in Rwanda campaign
The Made in Rwanda campaign was set up in 2014 and spearheaded by key stakeholders such as the Rwanda Development Board, the Rwanda Private Sector Federation and the Ministry of Trade and Industry. This initiative is to essentially reduce the country's trade deficit and promote consumption of locally produced goods and services. This was the first of several strategies to stimulate the domestic market and address issues faced by small and medium enterprises (SMEs), which make up 98% of businesses in the country. Rwanda's formal trade deficit was reduced by 21.7% in 2017, partly due to of strategies such as the Made in Rwanda Campaign.
The campaign has boosted various industries in Rwanda, especially in the garment sector. Nonetheless, there is still a challenging journey ahead if we are to grow local industries and make them competitive. Key industry players in Rwanda are primarily engaged in the production and processing of wood, tobacco, cement, textiles, agro processing, small scale beverages, soap, furniture, shoes, plastic goods, tea and coffee. Others include chemicals, construction, printing, engineering and methane gas. Among such challenges, many have cited Rwanda's land-locked geographical position; a small private sector; and lack of innovation, amongst other things. However, all this can be changed by smart technologies that drive industries forward as the country positions itself as a regional ICT Hub. The most obvious solution is to infuse modern technologies into enterprises to boost Rwandan industrial growth.
Integrating smart technologies
Aware of the low...