4IR-powered SEZs hold potential for Africa


Special Economic Zones

from DION HENRICK in Cape Town, South Africa
Western Cape Bureau
CAPE TOWN, (CAJ News) – AFRICA can create a blueprint for sustainable and inclusive industrialisation by embracing fourth industrial revolution (4IR) technologies within Special Economic Zones (SEZs).

That is according to consulting analyst, Hannro Steenekamp, who is upbeat Africa possesses immense potential for economic transformation.

“With artificial intelligence adoption in the region expected to grow by 18 percent by 2030, we have an unprecedented opportunity,” said the Frost & Sullivan analyst.

He noted traditional SEZ models have had mixed results and to achieve breakthrough success, Africa needs a new approach.

This means integrating technologies like machine learning, blockchain and industrial automation into the core of SEZ development.

Steenekamp wants the reader to imagine streamlined production lines, transparent supply chains, and the emergence of entirely new tech-driven industries.

“This is the future of SEZs in Africa,” he said.

“Government has a critical part to play in this transformation.”

Proactive policies that incentivise AI adoption in SEZs will be essential while targeted investment in upskilling the workforce will bridge the digital skills gap and ensure Africans benefit from these advancements.

Steenekam noted widespread AI integration across Africa would not happen overnight as infrastructure limitations and the need for responsible AI governance remained key challenges.

“However, by proactively addressing these issues within SEZs, we create innovation sandboxes to drive broader adoption throughout the continent,” he said.

SEZs offer a focused environment to implement and refine 4IR technologies tailored to African realities.

“By doing so, we unlock new industries, create sustainable jobs and position Africa as a competitive player in the global digital economy.

The time for action is now,” the analyst concluded.

– CAJ News

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