With up to 70 percent of the manufacturing sector still using analogue technologies, Malawi’s uptake in digital industrialisation is low, an analysis of 13 developing countries on the uptake advanced digital production (ADP) shows.
A latest United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (Unido) report titled Industrialising in the Digital Age indicate that Malawi’s investment and technology capabilities is low at 0.1 against its probability of adoption of digital innovation of 0.5.
The Industrial Development Report 2020 observes that ADP technologies applied to manufacturing production offer huge potential to advance economic growth and human well-being.
The report also said the technologies would safeguard the environment, contributing to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Unido director general Li Yong is quoted in the report as having said large number of countries, including Malawi, have yet entered into the era of ongoing technological breakthroughs.
“Firm level data collected for this report in developing countries reinforce this understanding by showing that the manufacturing sector in these countries is characterised by technology island, where few [if any] digital leaders coexist with a large majority of firms using outdated technologies,” he said.
Unido has since urged developing countries including Malawi to develop framework conditions, in particular digital infrastructure, to embrace the new technologies, fostering demand and leveraging on ongoing initiatives using ADP technologies and strengthening required skills and research capabilities.
In an interview on Sunday, University of Malawi’s Chancellor College economics professor Ben Kaluwa said it is a fact that industrialisation is the main avenue for successful development.
He said: “Industrialisation enables countries to build and strengthen the skills and capabilities to compete and succeed within the new technological paradigm. Industry should thus be pondering on ways to tap into the technological advancements.
“However, government should also play a crucial role in this endeavour by creating an enabling environment for the industry to thrive by, among other things, improving electricity supply which is the country’s main obstacle to doing business.”
According to Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI), access to electricity remains a key challenge in achieving industrialisation.
Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism spokesperson Mayeso Msokera is on record as having said realising the challenges relating to industrialisation, government has instituted a number of business and industrial reforms to promote industrialisation.