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Siemens unveils report on ‘Dawn of Digitalization, impact on Africa

Siemens, in conjunction with Frost & Sullivan, have carried out a comprehensive research outlining the current state of key industries across the continent and identifying challenges and opportunities.

The study, named ‘The dawn of digitalization and its impact on Africa’, considers growth predictions and where the adoption of smart technology would be most beneficial in expanding industries to drive sustainable growth. For the purpose of this study, focus was placed on four key sectors: Water, Manufacturing, Mining and Minerals, and Food and Beverage.

Some of the key findings in the report include the adoption of digital technologies, innovation as well as a range of digital customer offerings are expected to remain varied across industries, markets and geographies. The extent and impact of digital technologies is also expected to vary, favouring businesses and industries that seek relevance and increasing contribution in international markets in addition to existing domestic markets.

The report said while advanced analytics and digitalization are witnessing growing adoption across certain industry sectors, such as the automotive sector, there is a real opportunity for adoption of these across industry sectors such as the mining and food & beverage industry which are significant contributors to major African economies.

Manufacturing, while the most mature in its transformation and adoption of digital technologies in Africa, remains a marginal player struggling to make a bigger impact on country GDPs. The question governments need to ask themselves is how they align a ‘here-and-now’ emphasis on job creation with the necessary focus on digitalization. This will enable Africa to create a niche within the global economy. If we fail to pro-actively select our place within the global manufacturing industry, we run the risk of continuing on this path of non-industrialization.

Whereas the report observed expenditure in water infrastructure has been low when compared to the global average, it noted that the mining industry has been witnessing subdued investment.

The report also averred that for Africa to grow on a fast lane, a stable supply of electricity is critical for digitalization to flourish.

In his remarks, Ralf Leinen, Senior Vice President Digital Industries for Southern and Eastern Africa, said “For the first time in history we have an incredible opportunity to use smart technology to transform entire economies at an unprecedented rate. Africa needs to get efficient strategies in place now in order to succeed.”

However, in the wake of changing business dynamics, rapidly evolving technology and increasing competition, collaborative efforts between governments, industry, businesses (local and international), labour and academia is vital for creating an environment that is conducive to developing sustainability of local businesses, encourages technology upskilling, innovation, knowledge sharing  and execution.

Just as the findings from the study are just a starting point, Siemens observed that African countries must act quickly and decisively to become leaders on the global economic stage. The company further argued that digitalization is providing the continent with the opportunity to accelerate growth and rapidly expand struggling economies – but it’s a small window and decision-makers must get a strategy in place now in order to succeed.

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