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NEC XON 2018 summit explores Industry 4.0 in Africa

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NEC XON 2018 summit explores Industry 4.0 in Africa
Carel Coetzee, CEO of NEC XON

The 7th annual NEC XON ICT summit took place at Sun City on 11 October 2018. This year, NEC XON looked at how the Fourth Industrial Revolution can serve Africa and overcome some of the continents socio-economic challenges.

CEO of NEC XON, Carel Coetzee says that Africa is at the dawn of Industry 4.0 which is going change lives. “We need to make sure that the organisations we represent are ready for what is to come, the potential negatives and positives as well as opportunities that Industry 4.0 represents,” he said.

“We are at the point of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Revolutions are characterized by transforming economies, transforming jobs and transforming society. Industry 4.0 is no different. It will have a big impact and if we are not ready for it as businesses, as companies and as the continent it will cost us. It is true that Industry 4.0 will take away jobs like all the other revolutions but it will also create a myriad of other jobs,” said Coetzee.

Coetzee says that the cycle of jobs losses and new jobs created has been repeating itself for decades. “Millions of jobs that do not exist today will be created. We need to start questioning our businesses and organisations, our departments and our countries on how we can capitalize on this Industry 4.0 and discover if we’re ready for it,” he said.

Coetzee says all stakeholders need to play their part to make Industry 4.0 Africa’s hero.

Investing in Africa

NEC has been operating in Africa for over 50 years through its representative offices and partners. The company operates in South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, Zambia, Zimbabwe. NEC Africa is a wholly owned subsidiary of NEC Europe. NEC Africa acts as the sub-regional headquarters for all the sub-Sahara Africa branches and activities.

Hironobu Kurosaki, President and CEO of NEC Europe says that NEC regards Africa as important because of the potential growth, the population as well as the GDP.

“We have supplied our system solution to Africa since 1964, we have accumulated sales of over $4billion in Africa. NEC has a long history and is a large scale business in Africa. NEC has contributed a lot to telecommunications, infrastructure, the mining industry and supplying power stations,” said Kurosaki.

Customer solutions

According to Kurosaki, NEC XON can deliver the best of the breed solutions to its customers, there are ways that NEC offers value to its customers, He added.  “First we digitalize the real world data, then analyse such data, then offer prescriptions to turn insights from the data into real-world actions and then deliver clear social value,” he said.

Connect, create and change are three keywords that NEC associates with digital transformation, said Kurosaki. He says digital transformation is the key to help solve African challenges.

NEC Initiatives

To assist Africa to grow, NEC provides financial assistance, the company has collaborated with a Japanese semi-governmental bank the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) to provide finance to businesses all over Africa. NEC also partnered with the Japanese government to arrange the official development assistance as part of the long-term goal for Africa.

As part of the company’s people development project, NEC has the African Business Education (ABE) initiative that helps educate African youth. ABE Initiative for Youth is an NEC program that offers opportunities for young and eligible African men and women to study at Master’s courses in Japanese universities as international students and to experience internships at Japanese enterprises.


Among other demonstrations at this year’s summit were the facial recognition technology linked to an artificial intelligence (AI) platform being used by governments and organisations for safety and security. The same platform connects any number of Internet of Things (IoT) devices and sensors, from space to subterranean, to gather relevant data for emergency and other services.

By Fundisiwe Maseko
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