23 March 2018 | Digitalisation and the future of manufacturing in Africa

Session at the Global Development Network (GDN)’s 18th Global Development Conference: Science, Technology & Innovation for Development (#STI4D)

14.00-15.30 (GMT+5.30), Institute for Studies in Industrial Development, New Delhi (Auditorium, Ground Floor, Block B)

Watch the event below (from 5:27):

The growing digitalisation of economies and the associated rapid spread of advanced technologies like 3D printers, robots and cloud computing has a significant impact on manufacturing production globally. While the digital divide between developed and developing countries (particularly those in sub-Saharan Africa) is still significant, implying that low-income countries benefit less from digitalisation, there are important international pathways that affect the future of manufacturing-led development in Africa. Given this, the panel will discuss the major opportunities and threats that the fast-expanding digital economy poses for low and middle-income countries, which have traditionally used manufacturing as a first step towards economic transformation.

ODI will present new empirical evidence of the impact of digitalisation on labour productivity in low-income and sub-Saharan African countries and discuss the policy implications. An expert panel will then discuss factors driving development in the digital economy, experiences from Kenya on how to become digitally-ready, and what policy makers can do to prepare for the ‘digital wave’ whist also exploiting the current window of opportunity to address constraints and upgrade traditional manufacturing.

With investment and growth in manufacturing traditionally seen as one of the most promising pathways to job creation and economic transformation for developing economies, the question of how governments can prepare for inevitable changes is a crucial one for Africa’s long-term growth trajectory.


Dirk Willem te Velde  – Principal Research Fellow and Head, International Economic Development Group, ODI @DWteVelde


Karishma Banga – Senior Research Officer, ODI @karishma_banga

Anupam Khanna – Former Chief Economist & Director-General for Policy Outreach, NASSCOM

Edward Brown – Director of Country Engagement and Operations, African Center for Economic Transformation (ACET) @AcetforAfrica

Aruna Bolaky – Economic Affairs, Division for Africa, Least Developed Countries and Special Programmes (ALDC), United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) @arunabolaky


For further information on the conference, including a full agenda and how to register to attend, visit the GDN website.