Africa has all the resources, talent and brains that we need to succeed in industry 4.0, says Vimal Shah, Chairman Bidco Africa. Speaking during the annual Africa Industry 4.0 Summit, Vimal categorically stated that we have everything we need to thrive as Africa. Considering that manufacturing is the pillar of all economies of growth in the continent. “It holds huge potential in the future. As we navigate the path post-pandemic, there are still bright spots in the manufacturing industry in Africa.”
He went as far as challenging organisational leadership saying, “We need a company-centric approach to accelerate transformation. It is not a division to say or do all that. The entire company must be involved.” Did you get that CEOs? I guess this song really was about you…
Vimal is right to say this. BIDCO’s strategy is famous for involving everyone from top to bottom. It is essentially a dream corporate structure where everyone including the tea lady knows their BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) is “To grab, grow and sustain the number 1 market share in African markets by 2030.” As a business, they have created an enabling environment. Something government needs to participate in, even as the private and public sector partner for solutions. “The enabler is governance. A lot of people do not understand what is needed to make this happen. What more can we do? We need a mindset change. It is time to introduce people with specialised skills that are required to work in i4.0.”
The old trend of opening a shop and expecting customers to walk right in out because it is along their path or because they should just know you are awesome will not work. “The consumer is more educated. We need to address that.” Another thing Vimal is keen to address are the people who constantly get called layabouts because they sort of just hang out in public spaces. He sees this large unemployed population as a body teeming with great energy, ideas and the most precious gift of all – time. He recommends “we reeducate, repurpose and reskill them and make things happen.”
Two things he has always maintained even as a speaker in last year’s Industry 4.0 Summit is this. We need a paradigm shift that talks to a growth mindset. For instance, with COVID came q-commerce. We started shopping differently and that is something that is going to stay. We know that. He knows that. Everybody knows that. We also know manufacturing needs to go beyond the government for input, go beyond the counties and come together as an industry and people who want to make something an enabling environment even better. Besides, who does not want to change the world some?
If your fear is that i4.0 will take your job, you need to furrow your brow a bit more. Technology will take over the mundane, repetitive jobs that require next to no skill. Think of it, instead, as an opportunity to upskill, upgrade and reeducate yourself for a career, not a job, that will, in fact, earn you more than you were collecting before the machines arrived.
“What do we not have?” he asks, aware of the answer. “If we talk about New York, London, Europe or Asia, what they have, we also have. We have bandwidth. A lot of SMEs are trying to work with a lot of investors to upgrade themselves including taking small steps to improve their journey. I think we just need to leapfrog into 4.0.” You heard it. No more pussyfooting around i4.0. “We need to pool our resources. We do not have the legacy systems of the old school,” so we don’t have to go through every single stage of industrialisation. “It is very exciting. And I would like to pose a question to you. How excited are you about the manufacturing industry?”
After that rousing speech, I am indeed very excited. This is why I will reiterate, are you?