Trends that can fire Kenya’s growth

For countries keen on enhancing their industrial competitiveness, the integration of 4IR technologies offers a path to catch up and lead in the new industrial landscape.

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In an age where technological advancements and global megatrends are reshaping the fabric of our societies and economies, the potential for fostering sustainable development has never been greater.

The 2024 UNIDO Industrial Development Report underscores the transformative power of the energy transition, the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), global rebalancing, and demographic shifts.

These forces, while daunting, present unparalleled opportunities for countries to leapfrog into a sustainable future. The critical question, however, is how governments and private sector can harness these trends through well-crafted industrial policies and robust public-private partnerships.

The first global trend in the report is the energy transition, which can act as a catalyst for green industrialisation.

The urgent need to combat climate change has ignited a global race towards cleaner, more sustainable energy sources. This shift is not merely about altering the energy mix; it's a profound opportunity for industrial transformation.

More stringent environmental standards for existing products will come together with new market opportunities in renewable-based goods and their inputs.

By centring industrial policies around clean energy production and the development of renewable energy technologies, countries can unlock new industrial clusters and job opportunities.

There is also an opportunity to create industries around the exploitation of rare minerals and the production of new products required for the energy transition. The energy transition presents a chance to build economies that are resilient to climate change and generators of sustainable growth and innovation.

Digitalisation and the fourth industrial revolution will also act as an engine for competitive advantage of industry in this era. Characterised by breakthroughs in artificial intelligence, robotics, the Internet of Things, and more, the digital revolution is redefining industries.

For countries keen on enhancing their industrial competitiveness, the integration of 4IR technologies offers a path to catch up and lead in the new industrial landscape. Advanced digitalisation can spur industrial competitiveness, open new market opportunities and drive future innovation.

The challenge for governments lies in crafting industrial policies that facilitate research and development, technology adoption, foster digital skills development, and encourage the creation of digital solutions for advanced manufacturing. Public-private partnerships are crucial here, providing a platform for knowledge exchange, innovation, and the co-creation of future-ready industries.

Global rebalancing, the third megatrend, is characterised by shifting economic power and rising geopolitical tensions with the landscape of global trade and investment is evolving.

Global rebalancing, such as reshoring, back-shoring and friend-shoring, can create problems on one side of the shore but opportunities on the other. Though fraught with challenges, this rebalancing opens doors for countries to attract foreign direct investments (FDI) and tap into emerging regional markets.

Industrial policies that are agile and outward looking can position countries to benefit from these shifts, enhancing their integration into global value chains and fostering regional cooperation.

The key is not to view these changes as threats but as opportunities to diversify and strengthen industrial bases and seize the opportunities amidst the shifts.

The fourth global megatrend is the global demographic change with the world experiencing profound changes characterised by rapid population growth in some regions and aging populations in others.

This dynamic offers a dual opportunity: to develop labour-intensive industries in younger nations and to innovate in health and food sectors in aging societies.

There is also an opportunity to leverage human capital and tap into growing demand for health and food products by developing new industries or expanding the existing ones. Industrial policies need to prioritise education and skills development, ensuring that the workforce is equipped to meet the demands of tomorrow's industries.

By doing so, countries can turn the demographic challenges into drivers of economic transformation.

To capitalise on these opportunities, creating and strengthening public-private partnerships is imperative.

These partnerships can bridge gaps between government vision and industry innovation, pooling resources, knowledge, and expertise to tackle public infrastructure challenges, accelerate private investments and technology adoption, and drive sustainable innovations.

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