WEF Africa Diary Day Three: Back to basics as 4IR hits African shores

As the doors close on this year’s World Economic Forum on Africa, and government and business officials head home, the countless hours of debate and discussion will need to be digested to forge a path for the continent. The big theme at recent Davos forums have been tailored around the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and while such discussions are touched on, it seems the continent needs to go back to basics, so it doesn’t miss out on the benefits of the next industrial revolution. Some of the underlying concerns revolve around basic infrastructure and education, and how these need to be developed before the pros of the Fourth Industrial Revolution can be harnessed. It’s not an easy journey, but with an inclusive solution, the future is bright. Here’s Deputy Managing Editor Gareth van Zyl with today’s diary wrap. – Stuart Lowman

My name’s Gareth van Zyl and I’m the Deputy Managing Editor at This special video is brought to you by RMB.

It’s been an interesting three days here at the World Economic Forum on Africa in Durban. This is the final day and I’ve got some closing thoughts about what we’ve witnessed over the last three days.

I’ve had lots of interactions with many executives and even government people, and the one overriding theme that jumps out at me is this: “Yes, Africa has lots of economic opportunities. It has a young population. It has the ability to really take off but the problem is that the baseline infrastructure and systems just aren’t there.” We still need better roads. We still need better educated people. We need a proper, skilled workforce that can really take advantage of the likes of all the Industrial Revolution-type technologies.

The key question is, “How is Africa going to solve this problem? How is it going to close that gap?” It’s easy for delegates to come here and talk about what needs to be done. The path looks pretty clear but the question is, “Where is the action going to come from?” Can governments actually deliver?

It’s really got to be government that’s going to deliver better educated people and infrastructure, etcetera. Business will then come in and play its part and help to grow further revenues. Those are the key questions that I think a lot of the delegates are going to walk away with from this particular conference. We’ll have to wait until next year or the year thereafter to see if anything actually, really happens.

Thank you very much for joining us over the last three days. It’s been a pleasure covering the event for you.

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