Quantum computing (IBM), Autonomous robots (irobot), Internet of Things (Oracle), 5G Networks (Huawei), Electric Self-driving cars (Tesla), Neuro-technological brain enhancements (Neuralinks), Genetic editing (Spark Therapeutics) – The evidence of dramatic change is all around us and it’s happening at exponential speed. This is the new conversation around the world; The Fourth Industrial revolution (4IR) changing the way we live, work and relate to one another.
The First Industrial Revolution used water and steam power to mechanise production.
The Second used electric power to create mass production.
The Third used electronics and information technology to automate production.
Now the Fourth Industrial Revolution is building on the Third, the digital revolution that has been occurring since the middle of the last century. It is characterised by a fusion of technologies blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres. (weforum.org, Klaus Schwab 2016)
In Nigeria, we are closing the circuit by leapfrogging from our ripening third industrial revolution through an effort that started with the tech leaders in early 90’s birthing the likes of Systemspecs (John Obaro), Infographics (Chinenye Mba-Uzokwu), Interswitch (Mitchell Elegbe) etc. to the new startups like Co-creation Hub, Lifebank (a smart blood system saving lives in Lagos), Paystack, Andela, Univelcity, HNG accelerating Talent Development, BudgIT using tech for civic advocacy, 54-Genes unlocking the African Genome, I can go on…
We must, however, not forget that whatever we are building must be tailored towards solving our own local problems like epileptic power supply, bad roads etc.
Imagine what the term “Future of Work” means to the over 91 million Nigerians living in extreme poverty (Sahara Reporters, June 2019) or the over 17 million housing deficit, and how it impacts their living conditions? Our increasing security threat to life and property caused by ethno-religious differences in the nation impacting how we relate.
The question is: What are we going to change with what we are building?
All the preceding industrial revolutions have added incremental improvements to the world so much so that the nations that first participated and led the movement are today termed developed nations while others like Nigeria is termed ‘developing’ (to put it nicely).
We must do everything we can to be part of this revolution and not continue to be consistent latecomers. Indeed, this might be our last chance to redemption!
Joseph Agunbiade is the Founder of Univelcity a tech school that teaches young people software development, Data Science, AI and Product design then connect them to jobs. The co-founder of BudgIT, a civic organization that applies technology to intersect citizen engagement with institutional improvement, to facilitate societal change, worked at Silicon Harbour Investment Company before BudgiT. He owns Getmobile Technologies Limited, a software development agency where they build both enterprise level software, mobile apps and products for startups. He is the founder of SmartED a digital platform for teaching children African history through storytelling. Joseph has a B.Tech in Physics Electronics and trained Product Development Manager from General Assembly, San Francisco.