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F38
Artificial intelligence and smart manufacturing in Africa [initiated by RWTH Aachen University, Machine Intelligence Institute of Africa, SA and the N. Mandela Institute of Technology, Tanzania]
Convenors:
Wim Naudé (RWTH Aachen University)
Marieke van Winden (conference organiser) (African Studies Centre Leiden)
Jacques Ludik (Machine Intelligence Institute of Africa & Cortex Group)
John Kamara (nelson Mandela University/Adalabs)
Stream:
F: Technology and innovation

Abstract:

It is often claimed that Africa is de-industrializing and that structural transformation will have to proceed without development of the manufacturing sector. This panel proposes an alternative narrative: one in which the manufacturing sector’s recent performance has been under-appreciated, wherein future manufacturing is possible, and moreover wherein a resurgence of indigenous tech-entrepreneurs will play a leading role. In this narrative, new technologies including Artificial Intelligence, additive manufacturing and digital business models provide an opportunity for boosting local, indigenous production, for shortening global value chains, and for broadening labour market access. The panel will discuss the current knowledge about recent manufacturing performance and varieties of industrialization in Africa; will make the case for the relevance of additive manufacturing; will discuss the extent and impact of artificial intelligence and automation on jobs, start-ups, economic growth and public services; identify obstacles that slow down the uptake and impact of digital technology, such as infrastructure, skills, data regulations in Europe, internet censorship and controls, cybercrime; and make the case for new forms of industrial policy in Africa wherein entrepreneurship is central, to be supported by the knowledge sector in Africa