Despite the fanfare and excitement around “the fourth industrial revolution” (4IR), the stark reality is that most countries in Africa are ill-prepared for this new phenomenon, having barely kept up with the first three iterations.

Consequently, the notion of “industrialisation” is a source of both great anxiety and excitement. On the one hand it represents the capacity for rapid, transformative and scalable growth, while on the other, failure to create economies and workforces fit for modern realities threatens to unleash grave societal consequences. However, the context under which Africa must industrialise is unique. Not only must it do so while simultaneously trying to democratise, it also faces an even more compelling threat — that of premature de-industrialisation. 

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