ICT Clinic (Punch Newspaper)

‘Are we ready for the 4th Industrial Revolution?’ [ICT Clinic]

One of the interesting outcomes of writing a column in a newspaper is that you do not know who is reading what you have written, where they are and what their reactions are. You, as a writer, just keep doing what you enjoy doing.

Each week, after this column is published, people respond in various ways via instant messaging and, in some cases, text messages, but not too often would you get someone write a well-thought-out response, such as the one received, following last week’s piece.

Phuzo Soko, who sent the response, is a Senior Business Intelligence Manager/Data Scientist, at an insurance company in Johannesburg, South Africa. After reading the piece, he sent in a response that I believe should be made public. I did reach out to Phuzo to find out if this could be published in full and he gave his nod; so, here we go:

“I refer to an article, ‘Are we ready for the 4th Industrial Revolution?’ by Chukwuemeka Fred Agbata Jnr available on https://punchng.com/are-we-ready-for-the-4th-industrial-revolution/ and wish to add my commentary, accentuating that the issues raised herein are not homogenous to Nigeria, but are prevalent across the African continent.

For the sake of brevity, I will pick up a few points and draw parallels, where failure to implement will forever be our main pain point or source of frustration for us, as Africans. Though these failures stem from our political nomenclature, I will endeavour to confine myself to the failures in implementing technological, educational and industrial policies, concerning innovation and the 4th Industrial Revolution, in particular.

On the ‘Nigeriasat-1’, you asked a question: “But so far, what has the country done with this achievement? Has the country built on this milestone?” This is the story of Africa. We launch with much fanfare and great expense but soon after, we let go. Politicians are ever willing to cut ribbons and make pronouncements, on what needs to done, but neglecting the implementation, either, willingly, abdicating that responsibility to the unknown, if not, to an incompetent known. Could it be that, this is the price, society pays, when meritocracy is thrown out of the window and assigning responsibilities, based on other considerations? Basing appointments on nepotism as an example?

On policy, you concluded that, “The conundrum, facing the country is not because of the lack of great policies, but the ability to carry out the policies.” Suffice to regurgitate this point that, this is not a Nigerian problem. This is an African problem. To put this in perspective, I draw your attention to a book, by the late Nigerian Chinua Achebe, entitled ‘The Trouble with Nigeria’, a more befitting title, everything else, (content-wise), being constant is, ‘The Trouble with Africa.’

On technology, in general, you said: ‘We need to start leveraging technology, in solving some of our major problems, such as unemployment, social unrest, agriculture, logistics, education, security, corruption and infrastructure deficiency and the time to start is now.’

For the fact that we have the numbers, be it of people, problems, need or inefficient systems, it should not be a problem to leverage such a myriad of already innovated technologies.

Again, I say, what you have written about is not a problem that is only confined to Nigeria. It is an Africa-wide problem, where politicians habitually spend a lot of resources in time, money and human capital on workshops and seminars to come up with these policies, which end up gathering dust for failure of implementation.

In July, 2019, South Africa convened a summit on the 4th Industrial Revolution, culminating in the appointment, — Finish Reading on the Punch