Can Tanzania leapfrog to the fourth industrial revolution? The simple answer is yes, but only if we embrace the advancement of science and technology. As we are living in the industrialization era we can not afford to start from where others have left 50 years ago. We have to move at the same pace as our global counterparts. We did it with mobile phones, we can do it with our manufacturing industries.
If our mission is to attain a stable economic growth through industrialization then that can only be achieved through a stable productivity improvement. We can not improve our productivity if we still run and managed industries the same way they have been managed and run in the past fifty years. All the global large economies have been struggling to attain productivity with the existing manufacturing processes — Olivier Scalabre. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel, we just need to adopt what is working.
In this age, we can not afford to underestimate the role of science and technology in industrialization. Quoting Mwalimu, countries of the South must pay the highest attention to the development of Science and Technology. This was said 20 years ago, when the idea of International Village of Science and Technology — IVST, was first communicated to Mwalimu by the late Prof. Leonard Shayo. Mwalimu saw the need of incorporating science and technology on our mission to attain socioeconomic development, the need of technology and skills transfer between the developed North and the developing South is something which was widely addressed by Mwalimu, something which is currently pitched in the Fourth industrial Revolution; which emphasizes on regional trades and local production, promoting factories flexibility (bringing factories closer to consumers), cutting down production time and logistical chaos, and creating more local employment opportunities. This is far way better compared to relocating factories offshore to reduce costs through cheap labors, something which is no longer working. For example, the costs of manufacturing in Brazil is the same as France currently — Olivier Scalabre.
To us, Fourth Industrial Revolution is basically linking our current existing manufacturing processes with emerging technological innovations. It is more of digital disruption into the manufacturing processes. Industry 4.0 is not just about factories anymore other sectors (parties) are also benefited from the change by embracing more technological innovations to increase efficiency and productivity. The new trending innovations allow us to quickly leapfrog. The technologies such as Additive Manufacturing (3D Printers) and the like, allows for quick, smart and precise production at lower costs and basic technical skills. For example, manufacturing of basic lab equipment, children teaching tools, toys etc can rapidly be done in Tanzania (Africa), without a great need of technology transfer and technical skills compared to building a massive production plant which operates on a steam engine and consume a lot of energy.
This easy to adopt technologies we don’t have to invent them. We can adopt from the North and use them in the South competitively. Some of these tech tools e.g Drones and 3D Printers are becoming cheaper and cheaper. Some of them have already been adopted and manufactured in Tanzania (Africa). All we need is strategic policy interventions to encourage growth and their sustainability.
We can not just be emphasizing on making factories larger we have to make them smarter and relevant to our economies, also it is not too early to start thinking about the future jobs and the robotic revolution.