By Byron Mutingwende in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
The Siemens Mechatronics Certification Centre in Kenya has embraced the 4th Industrial Revolution, Prof Jean Bosco has said.
Prof Bosco made the remarks during the on going Africa Industrialisation Week happening at the African Union Headquarters, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia that is running under the theme, “Positioning African Industry to Supply the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Market.”
During the Africa Automotive Value Chain session, Prof Bosco said in order to support African trade, there is need to put emphasis on empowering youths with not only soft skills but hard skills as well.
“We need to embrace technologies such as virtual commissioning and digital twin which are key pillars of the 4th Industrial Revolution. This technology will allow Africans to acquire skills without necessarily having physical machines in their countries.
“This is meant to take advantage of Internet and cloud computing to access and use facilities virtually,” Prof Bosco was quoted during the session.
To demonstrate the above initiative, the Siemens Centre at the Dedan Kimathi University of Technology in Kenya established a learning factory and virtual machine control research laboratory.
This was to bridge the gap between industry and academia in as far as the 4th Industrial Revolution technology is concerned. With these shared skills, the AfCFTA will be easily implemented because the initiative removes trade barriers caused by African inequality in hard skills.
This initiative will be of immense benefit in the sense that it will reduce the cost of importing expatriates to work in African automotive industries. This will also increase the employability of African youths.
Automobiles production from the African continent only accounts for one percent of the global output in 2018, in comparison to South America, 3%, North America, 20%, Europe 23%, and Asia 50%.
At a national level Tunisia, Nigeria, Algeria, Botswana, Egypt, Morocco, and South Africa are on the auto value chain production frontier in Africa. According to AfDB estimates for 2017, South Africa dominates at 615 658 units annually, followed Morocco, at 288 986 units. South Africa dominates automotive trade on the continent, accounting for three-quarters of Africa’s automotive exports and 15% of imports in 2014.
The Sub-Saharan African market presents a lot of potential for the automobile industry, given an expanding market, and automobile trade deficit of US$16.3 billion, thus presenting opportunities for the development of a viable automotive value chain in the continent, especially in the parts segment, which are appropriate for the low income countries.
Market possibilities are also abundant in the vehicle sales, after sales, vehicle assembly and production segments of the lucrative auto value chain.