Africa champions the data revolution for the continent’s development

November 2, 2021

On 13 October 2021, the UNDP Africa Leading the 4th Industrial Revolution Initiative, led by the UNDP Resilience Hub for Africa, convened the first event in a new dialogue series on the foundations of Africa’s leadership in harnessing the 4th Industrial Revolution. The Dialogue Series, a component of the recently established Africa Leading the 4th Industrial Revolution (AL4IR) initiative, promotes public engagement with data for greater accountability and explores challenges and opportunities around ethics, inclusivity, responsibility and security to enhance 4IR technologies as public goods.

This first dialogue, on Harnessing the Data Revolution for Africa’s Development, focused on Africa’s progress in harnessing data in the 4th Industrial Revolution to catalyze actions on policies and practices for inclusive development outcomes and to show how the data revolution is delivering at scale in Africa.  

The dialogue also served to leverage commitments to strengthen data infrastructure, capacity and use in Africa; increase visibility and investments in the coordination of data for decision-making and action; demonstrate the power of partnerships; and provide new models for action in the era of the data revolution. The session was attended by over 90 participants from government, private sector, academia, civil society, foundations, research and development practitioners, United Nations and multilateral agencies.

“Playing the SDG integrator role, UNDP is a trusted partner to support Africa’s vibrant multi-stakeholder ecosystem to close the data gaps and build data capacity for Africa to lead the 4th Industrial Revolution,” said Alessandra Casazza, Manager of the UNDP Resilience Hub for Africa.

“Data is one of six key foundations for investment, for Africa to lead in the 4th Industrial Revolution. Whether in training Artificial Intelligence or Machine Learning. Governments, private sector and civil society need to collectively invest in the data revolution for development, in a way that is inclusive and leaves no one behind,” said Philip Thigo, Senior Digital Partnerships Advisor, UNDP Regional Bureau for Africa.

The AL4IR initiative lies at the core of the UNDP Resilience Strategy for Africa. It places at its centre the responsible adoption and use of 4th Industrial Revolution technologies in building capable and resilient institutions in the African continent, able to deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals and the African Union Agenda 2063, while staying true to the principle of Leaving No One Behind.

An inclusive and responsible adoption of the 4th Industrial Revolution posits that technology must be viewed as a development artefact and a public good. The UNDP AL4IR supports African countries and regional institutions in building the six fundamentals that drive Africa’s leadership of the 4th Industrial Revolution: i) building data systems, ii) creating resilient and inclusive digital infrastructure, iii) access to energy, iv) developing agile digital governance, v) developing technology leadership skills and capacities; and vi) supporting the financing of technology.

The UNDP AL4IR initiative is steered by a Technical Advisory Group (TAG) comprised of African leading experts, innovators and influencers on digital technology. The TAG will help steer a vision for strengthening an African-led 4th industrial revolution with a resilient foundation anchored on six key pillars: data, technology infrastructure, skilling revolution, agile governance, sustainable energy and financing.

The next dialogue session which focuses on digital capacities and skills will take place at the end of November.

For more information, please contact:

Dida Connor, UNDP Communications and Partnership Specialist