Africa is moving toward increased regional integration through the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) and Digital Single Market, which necessitates a strong implementation strategy supported by interoperable technology. This is enabled by standards and related activities, such as certification. This also highlights the need for a robust strategy to understand the implications of current and future technologies and the benefits standards bring to society at large, including in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the social, economic, and environmental spheres. Africa as a continent has recognized the importance of standards and the broader need for quality infrastructure. Given the size and diversity of Africa, and in particular, the multiplicity of approaches utilized by different players and stakeholders, a more focused and coordinated approach is required to bring the various stakeholders together to identify the priorities, short- and long-term plans, and to create concrete and actionable plans to achieve those priorities.
The African Union’s Agenda 2063 outlines Africa’s Seven Aspirations, and our strategy and roadmap will directly contribute to several of the aspirations:
- A prosperous Africa, based on inclusive growth and sustainable development
- An integrated continent, politically united, based on the ideals of Pan Africanism and the vision of Africa’s Renaissance
- An Africa of good governance, democracy, respect for human rights, justice, and the rule of law
- A peaceful and secure Africa
- Africa with a strong cultural identity, common heritage, values, and ethics
- An Africa whose development is people driven, relying on the potential offered by people, especially its women and youth, and caring for children
- An Africa as a strong, united, resilient, and influential global player and partner
The Africa Standardization Strategy and Roadmap for the Fourth Industrial Revolution will provide prioritization and a very specific implementation plan focusing on standardization aspects and related training needs to help deliver the broader objectives set out by Agenda 2063. It brings institutions to engage and provide input into a shared vision that enables the deployment of future platforms in a more seamless manner.
This effort is an outcome of the ARSO-IEEE Standards Summit held on 2 October 2018 in Kigali, Rwanda, and the African Standardization Organization (ARSO), the African Telecommunications Union (ATU), and Smart Africa agreement on the need for this strategy and roadmap. These organizations will take the initial lead and seek participation from other key continental institutions to develop the Standardization Strategy and Roadmap under the aegis of the IEEE Industry Connections program, which provides a platform for government institutions, researchers, companies, and regulators, as well as specific experts, to come together to develop this specific plan for Africa. Coordination with the broader IEEE community across the continent, through the IEEE Africa Council, is another resource.
Through this coordination program among stakeholders, we aim to facilitate standardization structures and related capacity-building activities to address issues around markets adopting technologies and the severe shortage of resources in this space. Through a coordinated action, more ground can be covered.
We welcome new participants from large and small corporations, academia, industry, and government agencies that are interested in African Standardization Strategy and Roadmap for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The standardization and technology communities, including related policy communities, in Africa will benefit from this strategy and roadmap. Members will include but are not limited to:
- African institutions active in the standardization and technology arenas
- IEEE’s Government Engagement Program on Standards (GEPS) participants from Africa
- ARSO members active in harmonization and uptake of international standards
- Societies, NSBs, regulators, academics, students, and innovators
Possible Industry Outcomes
Proposed deliverables and outcomes from this Industry Connections activity may include documents (e.g., white papers, reports), proposals for standards, conferences and workshops, databases, computer code, etc.
- A strategy and roadmap document
- An implementation plan
- Pilot projects
- Related capacity-building programs
The African Fourth Industrial Revolution Standardization Strategy (A4IRSS) seeks to provide direction on standardization for the well-being of Africans in the global economy. The strategy also seeks to bridge the gap between the physical and digital world, through collaboration of standardization experts, technology communities, stakeholders and regulatory agencies in assessing industry standards and policy harmonization that enhances trade within the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) single market.
The strategy also sets to position standards as the key driver and enabler of economic activities, enhancing standards development, using standardization to enable competitiveness of goods and services, adaptation of standardization best practices, institutionalization of effective management and coordination of standardization, taking active leadership role, aligning with other national and regional policies in relation to industry, consumers and environment and finally to facilitate coordination and scaling up standardization in Africa and to provide access to relevant standardization information.
Through the preferred Theory of Change (ToC), the strategy identifies activities that would contribute to improved approaches and coordination of standardization in the 4IR in Africa. The development of the strategy that brought together standards organizations, standards development contributors, research organizations, regulatory agencies, technology producers, and software developers represents the shared vision and aspirations of a broad cross-section of and diverse standards stakeholders in Africa.
For the implementation of this document, a survey on pilot projects was conducted and feedback was submitted where 5 sectors were identified as priorities to start with.
The Executive Committee of the African Fourth Industrial Revolution is launching this document in order to create awareness for the 4IR stakeholders who may take part in the implementation of the Standardisation Strategy.
Benefits of the 4IR
The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) provides organizations with opportunities for not only optimizing and enhancing internal operations, but also to innovate and optimize business models. The conceptual model revolves around the four domains of strategic choices namely:
a) Strategic execution,
b) Technology potential,
c) Competitive potential and
d) Service level.
The interrelationships of four domains inform the technology aspect, focusing on implementing the chosen business strategy and recognizing the need to address both external and internal domains.
Central to the A4IR Standardization Strategy are the following:
➢ Balanced standardization policies and collaboration between state and non-state actors
➢ Balanced data policies
➢ Capacity building and skills development to enhance productivity
➢ Continuous experimentation for cyber-physical systems
➢ Integration of measurements, learning and reporting, and information dissemination
How to Participate
To join the African Standardization Strategy and Roadmap for the Fourth Industrial Revolution Initiative team, please express your interest by sending an inquiry to: Dr. Eve Gadzikwa
Additional Contact: Industry Connections Program Administrator
Resource: African 4IR Standardisation Strategy – Read Below (PDF)