There are many compelling reasons why the offers of the fourth industrial revolution are combined with new green technologies, infrastructures, and systems to meet the challenges of the developing world.
Unplanned slums and informal settlements present systemic problems in the majority of developing world cities, especially in large, established and smaller emerging African towns. Municipalities are under strain. Districts don’t have enough bulk infrastructure—water, sanitation, electricity, and waste management facilities—to cater to growing populations.
Green technology and systems have the value of being largely decentralized or semi- decentralized. Examples include solar panels, energy-saving devices, and wind and hydroelectric technologies on a small scale. These don’t require significant infrastructure investment.
It can also reduce household costs by introducing green technology solutions and systems. Food, water, energy, and transport account for between 50 percent and 70 percent of poor African households’ budgets. They are therefore vulnerable to external shocks such as sharp increases in electricity, oil, food, and water costs.
These factors are also linked. For example, when oil prices rise, transport and food costs also increase, which has put additional pressure on existing households.
Green technologies can prevent poor households from these shocks by decoupling them from relying on local grids and provincial, national or global systems of supply.
The bigger picture is the absorption of green and sustainable technologies that can help seed small and medium-sized enterprises on a large scale and increase the attractiveness of their investments. In turn, this can drive economic growth and circulate cash at the levels most needed.
The introduction of new technologies in a town is a great creator of jobs. It requires people to install solar panels, solar water heaters, biogas digesters, energy saving equipment or to set up urban agriculture and permaculture. Examples of this are already available in several African cities. The greatest boon of them all: the fourth industrial revolution offers a massive opportunity to transform the productive economies of African countries into an entirely new area.