Africa Has What It Takes to Accelerate Climate Action Through Fourth Industrial Revolution Technologies and Innovations, Experts Say

19 April 2022
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African Development Bank (Abidjan)
press release

The African Development Bank brought together various development and industry experts to discuss the potential of fourth industrial revolution technologies and innovations to tackle climate change in Africa.

The virtual panel -- "Harnessing the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) to Build Africa's Climate Resilience: Practical case studies and experiences" -- took place on the 31st March 2022 as part of the Second Global Gobeshona Conference.

In his opening remarks, Dr. Al Hamndou Dorsouma, Officer-In-Charge of the Climate Change and Green Growth Department at the African Development Bank, noted that technologies were already being applied on the continent to enhance climate-related research, enable precision agriculture and observe climatic and weather patterns, with impactful results. To demonstrate this, he cited the work of the Bank's ClimDev Africa Special Fund, which supported the procurement of supercomputers that were instrumental in successfully monitoring and tackling the outbreak of desert locusts in East Africa in 2020. "This goes to demonstrate that fourth industrial revolution technologies and innovations can be leveraged towards solving problems that build resilience and enhance adaptive capacity to the impacts of climate change," he concluded.

Yasemin Koc, senior science, technology and innovation expert at the African Development Bank, moderated the session. It kicked off with a keynote speech from Philip Thigo, Senior Adviser, Data, Innovation and Open Government in the Office of the Deputy President of Kenya. He observed that the fourth industrial revolution is facilitating a rapid pace of change, which can be applied to accelerate interventions that address pressing issues such as climate change. Thigo also recommended that governments invest more in skills development to enable the fast-growing population to benefit from technologies.

Ken Lohento, a digital agriculture strategy expert at the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations Regional Office for Africa, highlighted the findings of a recently published report on the status of digital agriculture in 47 Sub-Saharan African countries. The report established that Africa holds immense potential for the use of digital technologies to transform the agricultural sector. He recommended moving beyond pilot projects to implementing full-scale projects.

Lhoucine El Khili, Acting Manager of the Data Center & System Engineering at the African Development Bank, spoke about the importance of finance to enable the design and application of technologies and innovations in Africa. He presented the Bank's drone project application to the agricultural sector in Tunisia.

The private sector was also identified as critical to addressing the increasing frequency and intensity of climate change impacts on the continent. "Climate change is a major global threat and for a challenge as large as this... there needs to be a coordinated and multi stakeholder approach," said Tapiwa Chiwewe, an independent fourth industrial revolution expert.

Bernard Banda, Acting Director, Economic Regulation at Zambia's ICT authority, emphasized the need to strengthen the infrastructure available to support the development, use and scaling up of technologies. He also urged governments to increase the use of technologies. "Governments across Africa can use technologies for early warning systems which are critical for rural communities who largely practise agriculture. This will help them prepare better for shocks such as flood and drought," he stated.

For more on this topic, visit our website dedicated to the African Development Bank Group's Annual Meetings. The theme of the 2022 Annual Meetings, being held from 23 to 27 May in Accra, is "Achieving Climate Resilience and a Just Energy Transition for Africa."

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