Digital, an essential component of industrial development in Africa

For more than a decade, Morocco, Egypt and Tunisia have chosen to position themselves as major components of digital infrastructure corridors in Africa in order to introduce digital transformation into the evolution of their industries as well as other sectors. In this sense, the Policy Center for the New South has shed light on the importance of this digital transformation at the level of the sectoral policies of the three countries, while giving priority to the manufacturing sector through a note that it recently published. .

In recent years, the various programs developed by the African Union and the European Union have given particular importance to digital technology, digitalization, innovation and in particular industrialization. According to a “Policy paper” note, taken from the 7th chapter “Digitalise to industrialise: Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia and the Africa-Europe partnership” written by Karim El Aynaoui, Larabi Jaïdi, Akram Zaoui, extract from the book “Africa-Europe Cooperation and Digital Transformation”, co-edited by Chux Daniels, Benedikt Erfoth and Chloe Teevan, “Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia have tried, with varying degrees of success, to overhaul their digital ecosystems, their innovation policies and their industrial strategies”.

The chapter writers point out that “the digital revolution is indeed bringing new transformations and new challenges to the industrial sector with the emergence of new transformative technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), robotics and additive manufacturing ( 3D printing)” and add that “manufacturing processes and the organization of production, especially within global value chains (GVCs), are already changing”.

For the PCNS, the digital revolution constitutes both an opportunity and a potential threat for Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia. Digitization can help industries increase their productivity and better respond to emerging trends and customer needs through the improvement of their own processes. If North African industries achieve higher degrees of digitalization, they can strengthen their competitiveness and the favorable position they already enjoy for exporting and participating in value chains, given their geographical proximity to the market and fabric. EU manufacturer, he said.

The authors state that ” digital issues are one of the five key partnership areas proposed in the EU’s comprehensive strategy with Africa“. However, they insist that the digitization of the manufacturing sector should be given greater priority both in Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia and in the discussions between the EU and its African partners, which should provide better financing to these North African manufacturing sectors for their digital transformation projects, distinguishing between the two components, in particular venture capital and industrial policies. ” Industrialization, which is the preferred path for the three North African countries to achieve structural transformation, should be supported by smart digital and industrial policies“, they recommend

According to the note, industrial policies around the world must now be reviewed to meet the challenges posed by new technologies. Policies should encourage further digitization of the industrial private sector. ” EU support for the manufacturing sector of its southern neighbors has already materialized in the past, but it needs to be deepened, widened and refined, in particular with regard to digitalisation“, we read in the document. At the African level and within the framework of the AU-EU partnership, we advocate for stronger synergies between different levels of engagement to support the establishment and strengthening of regional value chains“, note the authors.

According to the editors of the PCNS, Morocco, Egypt and Tunisia have the possibility of strengthening their integration into the European industrial fabric, which could pass through a better inclusion in European initiatives, programs and strategies relating to infrastructure, manufacturing and research and innovation (R&I). The digitization of North African industries can thus play a very important role in achieving this objective set by the three African countries.

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