This global village that we currently exist in, is fast evolving and has ushered in the 4th industrial revolution(4IR). The 4IR is characterised by innovation, quick problem analytics, solutions that were once seen as impossible or difficult to comprehend, rapid changes across sectors such as science, technology and industries, and a total transition of societal patterns from the traditional to virtual, and much more. With an apparent rise in interconnectivity and smart automation, the 4IR is every inventor’s dream era, unfolding right before our eyes. The terminology 4IR was made popular in 2015 by Klaus Schwab, the World Economic Forum founder, who acknowledges the great impact this era can potentially have on the world as we know it and the need to be prepared for what the future brings in terms of education, work, healthcare, engineering, agriculture, entertainment, social behaviours amongst others.
As at 2023, we have recorded inventions such as artificial intelligence enhanced solutions, gene editing, virtual and augmented reality, metaverse hangouts, real estate industry purchases within the metaverse, machine-to-machine communication(M2M), Internet of Things (IoT), Industrial IoT, advanced robotics, fully autonomous vehicles, nanotechnology, 3D printing, quantum computing, fifth-generation wireless technologies and many more.
We then see these inventions play out as mobile devices, smart TVs, IoT platforms, smart sensors, cyber-physical systems, augmented reality wearables, cloud computing, cognitive computing, location detection technologies, big data analytics, data visualisation, advanced human-machine interfaces, authentication and fraud detection, multilevel customer interaction and customer profiling and so much more.
Now, the big question is ‘how are we equipping the average Nigerian youth to compete with their counterparts in more developed nations?
How have we modified our educational system to encourage critical thinking and quick problem solving?
As a people and a nation, how receptive have we been to homegrown innovative solutions to our unique and peculiar challenges, as seen across sub–Saharan Africa?
How prepared are we as a nation and a people to stand tall in this 4IR?
With over 200m Nigerians, are we prepared to harness the hidden cognitive potential in our youthful population and enable them to create for other nations to ‘consume’ unlike the reverse which is currently the case?
As a nation, our educational sector needs an urgent boost in terms of equipping for innovation, equipping for advanced technology, equipping for the future of work. Although we are way behind schedule, the task should commence now, and this ‘task’ implies equipping our youths with the skills required to survive and thrive in the future workplace. Upskilling in tech is what guarantees that as a people we won’t become extinct in years to come.
I dare say that this should be a wake-up call for policy makers, educationists, school owners, parents and the youths themselves, to look beyond ‘consuming’ what others have created and look within to create solutions that others can ‘consume’.
The 4IR is here to stay and will continue to evolve into bigger and better solutions. We must not be left behind because as the giant of Africa we have the cognitive power en masse, which must be channeled for improved productivity, for our today and for our tomorrow.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution: what it means and how to respond”. World Economic Forum. 14 January 2016. Retrieved 20 March 2018
Schwab, Klaus (14 January 2016). “The Fourth Industrial Revolution: what it means, how to respond”. World Economic Forum. Retrieved 29 June 2017. The possibilities of billions of people connected by mobile devices, with unprecedented processing power, storage capacity, and access to knowledge, are unlimited. And these possibilities will be multiplied by emerging technology breakthroughs in fields such as artificial intelligence, robotics, the Internet of Things, autonomous vehicles, 3-D printing, nanotechnology, biotechnology, materials science, energy storage, and quantum computing.”
Schwab, Klaus (2016). The Fourth Industrial Revolution. New York: Crown Publishing Group (published 2017). ISBN 9781524758875. Retrieved 29 June 2017. Digital technologies … are not new, but in a break with the third industrial revolution, they are becoming more sophisticated and integrated and are, as a result, transforming societies and the global economy.”
“How To Define Industry 4.0: Main Pillars Of Industry 4.0”. ResearchGate. Retrieved 9 June 2019