Journal of Engineering

Journal of Engineering / 2020 / Article

Review Article | Open Access

Volume 2020 |Article ID 8545281 |

Ocident Bongomin, Eric Oyondi Nganyi, Mfanga Ramadhani Abswaidi, Emmanuel Hitiyise, Godias Tumusiime, "Sustainable and Dynamic Competitiveness towards Technological Leadership of Industry 4.0: Implications for East African Community", Journal of Engineering, vol. 2020, Article ID 8545281, 22 pages, 2020.

Sustainable and Dynamic Competitiveness towards Technological Leadership of Industry 4.0: Implications for East African Community

Academic Editor: Di He
Received14 Apr 2020
Revised12 May 2020
Accepted13 May 2020
Published01 Jun 2020


The war to technology and economic powers has been the driver for industrialization in most developed countries. The first industrial revolution (industry 1.0) earned millions for textile mill owners, while the second industrial revolution (industry 2.0) opened the way for tycoons and captains of industry such as Henry Ford, John D. Rockefeller, and J.P. Morgan. The third industrial revolution (industry 3.0) engendered technology giants such as Apple and Microsoft and made magnates of men such as Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. Now, the race for the fourth industrial revolution (industry 4.0) is on and there is no option, and every country whether developed or developing must participate. Many countries have positively responded to industry 4.0 by developing strategic initiatives to strengthen industry 4.0 implementation. Unlocking the country’s potential to industry 4.0 has been of interest to researchers in the recent past. However, the extent to which industry 4.0 initiatives are being launched globally has never been divulged. Therefore, the present study aimed at exploring industry 4.0 initiatives through a comprehensive electronic survey of the literature to estimate the extent of their launching in different regions. Inferences were drawn from industry 4.0 initiatives in developed nations to be used as the recommendations for the East African Community. Results of the survey revealed that 117 industry 4.0 initiatives have been launched in 56 countries worldwide consisting of five regions: Europe (37%), North America (28%), Asia and Oceania (17%), Latin America and the Caribbean (10%), and Middle East and Africa (8%). The worldwide percentage was estimated as 25%. This revealed that there is a big gap existing between countries in the race for industry 4.0.

1. Introduction

The race towards industry 4.0 is on [1], and it is crucial that the East African Community (EAC) must participate [2, 3]. Unlike the previous industrial revolutions where Africa was left out, industry 4.0 is fast, disruptive, and destructive to all industrial sectors including healthcare, education, and finance [4], and thus Africa cannot escape [5]. For this reason, every country must join the revolution either way [6]. Most importantly, it requires early and strong preparation from every country to be successful. In addition, industry 4.0 is developing at an astounding pace and high speed, while creating a lot of great opportunities. Therefore, if countries do not get ready, industry 4.0 will increase the visibility of inequalities among them including companies and people (i.e., the have and have-nots, the skilled and unskilled, and the rich and the poor). This depicts that attempting to maintain the status quo is not an option for any region, country, or company [6, 7].

Germany emerged the first country to put forward the idea of industry 4.0, focusing on engineering excellence to dilate its strengths in engineering and machine building to informatization [8]. Japan egressed as the robotic superpower, and it is strategizing on integrating robots with Internet of things (IoT) and M2M technologies under the umbrella “Robot Revolution Initiative (RRI)” [9]. On the other hand, the US is the world leader in information technology and it focuses on increasing its strengths to robotization, commonly known as Industrial Internet or industrial Internet of things (IIoT). The IIoT involves integration and linking of big data, analytical tools, and wireless networks with physical and industrial equipment [10]. However, nowadays, the concept of industry 4.0 has expanded tremendously and its definition spans beyond engineering, smart and connected machines, and systems. Its waves of disruption and destruction are also breakthroughs in areas ranging from gene sequencing to nanotechnology, renewable energy to quantum computing, and simulation to 3D printing of objects (buildings to body organs) [11, 12]. Simply put, industry 4.0 is the fusion of disruptive technologies and their interaction across the virtual, physical, digital, and biological domains making it rudimentarily unique from previous revolutions [13]. In other words, industry 4.0 is an intelligent manufacturing, digitalization, automation, and robotization, as well as e-commercialization of the economy [2, 1416]. Its wave of disruptive transformation includes “digital transformation,” “circular economy,” and “bio-based system,” each of which will occur at different periods [17]. A number of countries are apparently embracing digital transformation and thus the first transformational wave of industry 4.0. The main characteristics of industry 4.0 include interoperability, visualization, decentralization, real-time capability, service orientation, modularity, convergence, cost reduction, efficiency, and mass customization [18].

Industry 4.0 is a collective term for disruptive technologies and concepts of value chain organization [19] and a wave of disruptions and uncertainties with a core of industrial transformation, revitalization, and development [20]. This has escalated global competitions among developed and developing countries. Therefore, one of the survival strategies is for the governments to establish critical programs that can drastically change the global structures of major industrial sectors [21]. This is because industrialization remains emblematic to long-term development ambition for developing and least-developed countries, and it is indispensable for competitiveness [22, 23]. However, the wealthy or developed countries view industrialization at different angles; they are doing it intelligently through public policies that promote innovation [23]. For instance, three approaches used by the leading manufacturing nations towards the adoption of industry 4.0 has been divulged [24, 25]. These approaches were labeled as “coordinated” for Germany [26], “managed” for China, and “market-driven” for the US to reflect the government’s role towards industry 4.0 effectuation in a country [23, 27]. Because there is no set formula or single scheme for the execution of industry 4.0 technologies, companies are generally adopting industry 4.0 technologies specific to the requirements of their businesses [28, 29].

Despite the enormous negative impacts of industry 4.0 on almost everything, there are numerous benefits that come with its adoption. For instance, the benefits identified to change the fundamental equation of manufacturing can be classified into six categories: competitiveness, productivity, profitability, revenue, traceability, and record keeping [1]. Competition has reached unprecedented phases globally, and the industrial structure is rapidly changing with important foreign investments, including those of emerging economies in Europe, the US, and China [17, 30]. In the current competition dilemma, it is not just a matter of being a winner but also maintaining a leadership position through clear focus and coordinated efforts to invest in industry 4.0 technologies [3133]. In addition, organizations or policy makers should think strategically when determining where to focus and invest, so as to build their capabilities in manufacturing [34, 35]. Moreover, exciting the domestic competitiveness in manufacturing is emblematic to global competitiveness of the country. Therefore, there is a dire need for developing new approaches and transformational roadmaps for integrating the industry 4.0 infrastructure in small and medium enterprises (SMEs) [36, 37].

Todays’ manufacturing landscape is full of uncertainties with ever-changing demands, greater customization, smaller lot sizes, sudden supply-chain changes, and disruptions. It is a complex heterogeneous ecosystem with a broader range of actors, including companies (SMEs), technology and material suppliers, universities, training centres, research and technology organizations, customers, and consumers. Therefore, sustainable manufacturing will have to be merged with industry 4.0 technologies [38, 39]. These technologies including Internet of things, Big data, and Blockchain are reshaping business dynamics [11, 12]. Consequently, all countries regardless of their levels of development need to coordinate their policies and tools to benefit from these technologies. Moreover, the rapid convergence of these technologies is not only reshaping production and consumption but also redefining the competitive landscape [4042]. Innovative manufacturing is a central lineament of industry 4.0, and businesses will need to compete with one another by lowering costs and improving efficiency in the use of technology [43]. The reality is that manufacturing embraces a wider range of activities beyond production, and therefore fortifying manufacturing sectors is indispensable for the global sustainable competitiveness [4446].

As one way to strengthen industry 4.0 deployment and penetration in countries, national strategic initiatives have been launched by governments, private sectors, or public-private partnerships. However, the extent of industry 4.0 initiatives that have been launched in different countries worldwide remains unclear. In order to unlock this, the current study was conducted to compare the different industry 4.0 initiatives launched by different countries. In addition, it aimed at identifying these initiatives from developed and developing countries in comparison to the EAC and derived a suitable recommendation to strengthen industry 4.0 adaptation in the EAC alongside the existing ICT policy. As industry 4.0 is a convergence of every sector, this paper was intended to reach a large audience including political and corporate leaders, policy makers, academia, industry, and the society at large.

2. Methodology

A comprehensive literature search was conducted in electronic databases: Google Scholar, Science Direct, Scopus, Sage, Taylor & Francis, Springer, and Emerald Insight from January 2020 to April 2020 following procedures employed in previous studies [11, 47]. The search was performed independently in all the databases and then combined with “and” operators. The multidisciplinary databases included original research peer-reviewed journal articles, books, theses, dissertations, working papers, white papers, discussion papers, patents, and reports covering concepts on industry 4.0 initiatives between 2011 and 2020. Thus, articles in the returned results were assessed concerning their inclusion in this study, and further searches were carried out at the Google search engine. The first online literature search was done using the search term “Industry 4.0 initiative.” Because of the manageable criteria, all the relevant literatures were downloaded (PDF files) and saved on the computer. However, only important literature that focused and contained the industry 4.0 initiative(s) were considered for the in-depth search on industry 4.0 initiatives of a specific country (Figure 1). Basically, the first online literature search was done to get an overview of the industry 4.0 initiatives launched around the world. More focalized searches were then conducted with the following search terms: “industry 4.0 initiative and Germany,” “Industry 4.0 initiative and China,” “Industry 4.0 initiative and United States,” “Industry 4.0 initiative and India,” “Industry 4.0 initiative and Mexico,” “Industry 4.0 and Japan,” “Digital Strategy 2025,” “High-Tech Strategy 2025,” “Manufacturing USA,” “Society 5.0,” “Made in China 2025,” “Make in India,” “Crafting the Future,” “East African Community or EAC,” “East African Community and industry 4.0 initiative,” “Rwanda and industry 4.0 initiative,” “Kenya and industry 4.0 initiative,” “Uganda and industry 4.0 initiative,” “Tanzania and industry 4.0 initiative,” “Burundi and industry 4.0,” “South Sudan and industry 4.0” “ICT and Rwanda,” “ICT and Kenya,” “ICT and Uganda,” “ICT and Tanzania,” “ICT and Burundi,” and “ICT and South Sudan.” The last search was done on 10 April 2020. The search outputs were saved on databases, and the authors received notification of any new searches meeting the search criteria (from Science Direct, Scopus, and Google Scholar).

3. Results and Discussion

3.1. Industry 4.0 Initiatives Overview

In the electronic survey, only policies, programs, strategies, or plans developed between 2011 and 2020 and focusing on industry 4.0 were considered as industry 4.0 initiatives. The industry 4.0 initiatives launched by 56 countries and international cooperation around the world were identified in the published literature. The countries were categorized into 5 regions for the purpose of quantitative analysis. These regions included: (i) Latin America and the Caribbean region with 15 national industry 4.0 initiatives for 7 countries (Table 1); (ii) North America with 7 initiatives for 2 countries (Table 2); (iii) Europe region has 41 initiatives for 25 countries aspresented in Table 3; (iv) Asia and Oceania region has 39 initiatives for 14 countries as shown in Table 4; and (v) Middle East and Africa region has 15 initiatives for 8 countries as presented in Table 5. Besides, Table 6 shows 6 initiatives for 4 regional and international cooperation.

S/NCountryIndustry 4.0 initiativesYearFundingReference(s)

1BrazilNew national strategy on industry 4.0 or Industry 4.0 roadmap2013Public[48]
Brazilian digital strategy (E-Digital) or Brasil Eficiente2018Public[49, 50]
Working group for I4.0 (WGI4.0)2017Public[22]
2MexicoProsoft 4.02018Public[51]
Crafting the future (CF)2016Public-private[52]
Nuevo Léon 4.0 (NL4.0)2018Public[53]
3ArgentinaNational innovation2017Public[51]
Digital industry 4.0 plan2018Public[51]
R&D innovation clusters2017Public[51]
4ColombiaProduction transformation programme2016Public[51]
Micro and SMEs Live Digital (MiPyme vive Digital)2014Public[40]
5ParaguayVision Paraguay 20302014Public[51]
6Dominican RepublicCompetitiveness improvement plan2014Public[51]
SMEs Digital Economy Plan2015Public[51]
7ChileStrategic Programme Smart Industries (Programa Estratégico Industrias Inteligentes (PEII))2015Public[22]

S/NCountryIndustry 4.0 initiativesYearFundingReference(s)

1USSmart Manufacturing Leadership Coalition (SMLC) or Smart Manufacturing2012Public-private[5456]
AMP and 2nd Advanced Manufacturing Partnership (AMP 2.0)2012 & 2014Public[31, 5759]
National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) and Manufacturing USA (MUSA)2012 & 2016Public-private[60, 61]
Hollings Manufacturing Extension Program (HMEP)2017Public[46, 6265]
Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) or industrial internet of things2014Private[6671]
2CanadaIndustrie 20302016Public[72]
Centre for Smart Manufacturing (CSM)2015Public[73, 74]

S/NCountryIndustry 4.0 strategic initiativesYearFundingReference(s)

1United KingdomHigh Value Manufacturing Catapult (HVMC) or Catapult centres2013Public[27]
Digital Academy (DA) or UK Digital Strategy2017Public[1]
National Innovation Plan (NIP)2016Public[72]
Innovate UK (future of manufacturing (FOM))2013Public[72]
2FranceIndustrie du futur (IdF) or alliance pour l’industrie du futur (AIdF) or Industry of the Future2015Public[26, 75]
La Nouvelle France industrielle (LNFI) or new France industry (NFI)2013Public[26, 76]
French Fab (FF) (Made in France)2017Public[27]
3ItalyPiano Nazionale Industria 4.0 or Piano Impressa 4.02016Public[77]
Intelligent factory clusters (CFI) (Fabbrica intelligente)2012Private[26]
5SwedenMade in Sweden 20302014Public[78]
Produktion 20302013Public[26, 79]
6BelgiumMade Different2013Public[26, 74]
7SwitzerlandIndustry 20252015Public[10]
8NetherlandsSmart Industry2014Public[74, 79]
9FinlandIndustrial Internet Business Revolution2015Public[80]
IoT Pilot Factory (IoT PFF)2017Public[80]
10PolandFuture Industry Platform2015Public[81]
11Czech RepublicPrumysl 4.02013Public[26, 81]
12EstoniaDigital Agenda 20202015Public[82]
E-society Estonia2012Public[82]
13CroatiaDigitization Impulse 2020—industry of the future2016Public[24]
14LatviaDemola (Riga IT TechHub)2017Public[26]
15DemarkMADE2012Public[26, 80]
16HungaryIPAR 4.0 National technology platform/Irinyi plan2017Public[81]
17BulgariaKontseptsia Industria 4.02017Public[81]
18RomaniaNational Strategy for Romania Digital Agenda 20202017Public[81]
19LithuaniaPramone 4.02017Public[81]
20AustriaTUWin 4.02013Public[32]
Platform Industry 4.02014Public[32]
Industry 4.0 Austria2015Public[32]
21SloveniaSlovenia Digital Coalition/Slovenia Industrial Policy 20132013Public[81]
22SlovakiaSmart Industry Platform2016Public[26, 81]
23IrelandIreland’s Industry 4.0 Strategy2019Public[83]
24SpainIndustria Conectada 4.02017Public[26, 72]
5G Digital Agenda2018Public[40]
25GermanyIndustrie 4.0 (I4.0) and Plattform Industrie 4.0 (PI4.0)2011 & 2013Public-private[39, 8487]
Mittelstand 4.02012Public-private[88, 89]
Digital Strategy (DS) 2025 and High-Tech Strategy (HTS) 20252016 & 2018Public[88, 90]
AI Strategy2018Public[88]
Shaping digitalization implementation strategy for the federal government (SDISFG)2018Public[88, 91]

S/NCountryIndustry 4.0 initiativesYearFundingReferences

1ChinaMade in China 2025 (MIC 2025)2015Public[41, 92]
Internet Plus (+)2015Public-private[93, 94]
Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)2013Public[9599]
13th five-year plan (13th FYP)2016Public[100103]
2TaiwanTaiwan productivity 4.02015Public[72]
Smart machinery2017Public[24]
Asia Silicon Valley development2017Public[24]
3South KoreaManufacturing innovation (MI) 3.02014Public[104]
I-Korea 4.02018Public[105]
Innovation Platform Programme (IPP)2017Public[106]
4JapanIndustrial value chain initiative (IVI)2016Private[8, 107]
Revitalization and Robot strategy (Robot revolution initiatives (RRI))2015Private-public[9, 108114]
Society 5.0 (5th Science and Technology Basic Plan), super smart society2016Public-private[20, 115]
AI technology strategic conference (AITSC)2016Public[116]
IoT Acceleration Consortium (IoTAC)2015Private[53]
Industry 4.1 J2015Public[104]
5SingaporeInfocomm Media (ICM) 20252015Public[117, 118]
RIE 2020 plan (research, innovation, and enterprise)2016Public[119]
Smart nation2014Public[120]
Service and digital economy technology roadmap (SDETRM)2018Public[121]
6IndiaMake in India (MII)2014Public[122, 123]
Startup India2015Public[124]
Digital India (DI)2014Public[125]
Skill India (SI)2015Public[126]
Smart India2015Public[124]
7IndonesiaMaking Indonesia 4.0 (MI 4.0)2017Public[53]
2020 Go digital vision2015Public[121]
8RussiaNational Technology Initiative (NTI)2015Public-private[127]
Data Economy Russia 20242017Public[128]
9ThailandThailand 4.02016Public[129]
10TurkeyDigital conversion association2016Public[52]
11VietnamStrengthening the country’s capacity to address industry 4.02017Public[22]
12MalaysiaIndustry 4WRD or National Policy on Industry 4.02018Public[130]
Eleventh Malaysia plan2015Public[72]
13PhilippinesComprehensive Automotive Resurgence Strategy Programme2016Public[131]
14AustraliaIndustry 4.0 Testlabs2017Public-private[132]
Industry 4.0 prime minister taskforce2016Private[132]
The next wave of manufacturing2013Pubic[73]

S/NCountryIndustry 4.0 initiativesYearFundingReferences

1IsraelIsrael 20282018Public[82, 133]
Israel innovation report 20172015Public[82, 133]
Startup Nation2012Public[133, 134]
2United Arab Emirates (UAE)Smart Dubai 20212017Public[82]
UAE AI Strategy 20312018Public[82]
UAE’s National Agenda 20212016Public[135]
3Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA)Saudi Vision 20302016Public[135, 136]
KSA’s National Transformation Plan 20202016Public[135]
4QatarQatar National Vision 20302016Public[135]
Qatar’s National Development Strategy 2017–20222017Public[135]
5KuwaitNew Kuwait Vision 20352016Public[135]
6South Africa (SA)National E-strategy2017Public[127]
Intsimbi programme2018Public[6]
7MoroccoDigital Development Agency (L’Agence de Développement Digital) (ADD)2017Public[137139]
8RwandaCentre for the Internet of things (IoT)2017Public-private[6]

S/NRegionIndustry 4.0 initiativesYearFundingReferences

1G20New industrial revolution (NIR)2014G20 members[36, 107]
2EUFactories of the future2013EU members[140, 141]
Factories 4.0 and beyond2018EU members[140]
3BRICSBRICS skills development working group2016BRICS members[3, 6]
BRICS digital cooperation on industrialization2019BRICS members[142]
4GCCDigital transformation agenda2016GCC members[135]

EU: European Union, BRICS: Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, and GCC: Gulf Cooperation Council.

The number of countries and the total number of industry 4.0 initiatives launched per region are depicted in Table 7. For statistical analysis, the list of countries was adopted from that prepared by “Population Division of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs” [143]. The total number of countries per region, and the total of countries with industry 4.0 initiatives and their percentage are summarized in Table 7. Figure 2 illustrates that Europe (37%) leads the rest of the regions in launching industry 4.0 initiatives, followed by North America (28%), Asia and Oceania (17%), Latin America and the Caribbean (10%), and Middle East and Africa (8%). The overall percentage of countries with industry 4.0 initiatives was estimated as 25%. Evidence from this study shows that European countries are progressing faster than the rest of the world in adopting industry 4.0. This could be because of the strong international cooperation (European Union) with focalized industry 4.0 policies. As demonstrated, every region as well as country is adopting industry 4.0 at their own pace. This is due to the fact that launching industry 4.0 initiatives and technological developments require huge finances and resources. For this reason, the inequality is very visible among countries and regions, as developed nations are not limited with finances unlike developing countries. This is supported by the fact that Europe has more economically and technologically advanced countries than the rest of the regions combined [144147].

S/NRegionsTotal number of countriesCountries with industry 4.0 initiative(s)Number of initiativesCountry (%)Region (%)

1Latin America and the Caribbean467151510
2North America5274028
4Asia and Oceania5514392517
5Middle East and Africa72815118
6Worldwide (overall)2255611725

3.2. Comparison of Industry 4.0 Initiatives

Further literature search and study were conducted to understand the differences existing between the different industry 4.0 initiatives that have been launched in different countries. In order to narrow the scope of the literature searches, six countries were selected from which six initiatives were selected and compared in terms of their goals and industry 4.0 technologies focus areas. As illustrated in Figure 3, Germany, US, China, and Japan were selected because of their outstanding economic and technology powers [89]. While India and Mexico were also selected because of their unprecedented technological leapfrogging in the 21st century. It was quoted that these two countries were able to “jump” directly from industry 2.0 to industry 4.0 [148]. Evidently, it was necessary to compare each of them with the economic power countries. Due to the fact that each country has launched more than one industry 4.0 initiative, only recently launched initiative(s) in each country was selected for this study: the “Digital Strategy 2025 and High-Tech Strategy 2025 (DS & HTS 2025)” from Germany, “Manufacturing USA (MUSA)” from the US, “Made in China 2025 (MIC 2025)” from China, “Society 5.0” from Japan, “Make in India” from India, and “Crafting the future” from Mexico. The compounding of HTS 2025 and DS 2025 in this study is due to the fact that both initiatives have the same timeline, and HTS 2025 is the successor of Germany’s new High-Tech Strategy [149]. Therefore, their combined strength can be well compared with other country’s initiatives.

3.2.1. Digital Strategy 2025 and High-Tech Strategy 2025

Digital Strategy 2025 and High-Tech Strategy 2025 (DS & HTS 2025) are two complementary industry 4.0 programs that have been launched recently. The Digital Strategy 2025 initiative was launched in 2016 under the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) [90]. Its central focus is on digitizing everything, including the products [150] and small and medium-scale enterprises (SMEs) to attain a competitive advantage [151]. It also aimed at enabling the German economy in responding to new challenges and enhancing its competitiveness both in quality and technology, by combining traditional competitive advantages with the newest technology, modern methods, and specific support programmes [90]. Germany was quick to realize their digitization weakness in the industry sectors (automotive, machine tools, chemicals, and pharmaceuticals) over its competitors (USA, Japan, and China) [152]. This has triggered the launch of the Digital Strategy 2025 to knead alongside the existing initiatives (industrie 4.0 and Mittelstand 4.0) so that the German economy remains competitive. Germany launched another initiative called the “High-Tech Strategy 2025” in September 2018 as the strategic framework for research and innovation policy [153]. They reasoned that ability to gain sustainable competitiveness is focalized around strengthening education, research, and innovation. HTS 2025 aims at scaling up investment in research and development [153]. It also focuses on leveraging key society challenges, namely, healthcare sustainability, climate protection and energy, mobility, urban and rural areas, safety and security, and economy and work 4.0. The intention is to shape the economy, working life, and lifestyles by creating a universal environment for harnessing the competitiveness, the preservation of the natural life-support systems, and social equity [153]. This is quite similar to the goal of Japanese Society 5.0 initiative. However, HTS 2025 is being driven by a mission-oriented approach to bring together the activities of the ministries involved in the fields of action and relevant players from the science and research community, the private sector, and civil society. There are 12 research areas of the HTS 2025’s mission-oriented approach including combating cancer, creating sustainable circular economies, and finding new sources for new knowledge [153].

3.2.2. Manufacturing USA

Manufacturing USA (MUSA) formally known as the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) is a successful program that has laid down the foundation for American manufacturing competitiveness for generations to come. It is the US federal government program for coordinating public and private investments and academia to improve the competitiveness and productivity of the US manufacturing through the creation of a robust network of manufacturing innovation institutes, each focused on a specific and promising advanced manufacturing technology area [60]. NNMI was introduced and launched in 2012 in the 2013 fiscal year (FY) budget by President Barrack Obama which was then renamed as Manufacturing USA on September 2016 by the Secretary of Commerce in the FY 2016. It was to raise awareness of the value of the program to industry, academia, nonprofits, the public, and the entire US manufacturing community, recognizing the program’s impact on securing America’s manufacturing future [61, 154]. The technology focus areas include additive manufacturing, biomanufacturing, nanomanufacturing, advanced materials, robotics, modeling and simulation, and real-time optimized production (smart manufacturing) [155]. The Manufacturing USA program is a network of 14 manufacturing institutes which are operational and implementing activities in their technology areas with each institute funded by a unique public-private partnership as shown in Table 8 [60, 156, 157].


1Additive manufacturingAmerican Makes: the National Additive Manufacturing Institute[158161]
2Digital manufacturing and designDMDII: Digital Manufacturing and Design Institute or MxD: Manufacturing times Digital[162]
3Lightweight metals manufacturingLIFT: Lightweight Innovation For Tomorrow[163, 164]
4Wide bandgap power electronics manufacturingPowerAmerica: the Next Generation of Power Electronics Manufacturing Innovation Institute[165]
5Fiber-reinforced polymer compositesIACMI: Institute for Advanced Composite Manufacturing[166]
6Integrated photonics manufacturingAIM Photonics: American Institute for Manufacturing Integrated Photonics[167, 168]
7Manufacturing thin flexible electronics devices and sensorsNextFlex: America’s Flexible Hybrid Electronics Manufacturing Institute[169]
8Fiber materials and manufacturing processAFFOA: Advanced Functional Fabric of America Institute[170, 171]
9Smart manufacturingCESMII: Clean Energy Smart Manufacturing Innovation Institute[172, 173]
10Biofabrication and manufacturingBioFabUSA: Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing Institute (ARMI)[174]
11Robotic manufacturingARM: Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing Institute[175]
12Biopharmaceutical manufacturingNIIBML: National Institute for Innovation in Manufacturing Biopharmaceuticals[176]
13Molecular chemical process intensification for clean manufacturingRAPID: Rapid Advancement in Process Intensification Deployment Institute[177]
14Sustainable reduction of carbon emission and manufacturing with clean energyREMADE: Reducing Embodied-energy and Decreasing Emissions[178, 179]

3.2.3. Made in China

Made in China 2025 (MIC 2025) is a national strategy of industry 4.0, announced by China’s State Council in May 2015 [92, 180]. The goal of MIC 2025 is to comprehensively upgrade, consolidate, and balance China’s manufacturing industry, turning it into a global leader in innovation and manufacturing [181]. This will be achieved in three stages of strategic plans: (i) transforming China into a major manufacturing power by 2025; (ii) reaching an intermediate level among world’s manufacturing powers by 2035; and (iii) becoming the leader among the world’s manufacturing powers by 2049 [182]. MIC 2025 is to some extend inspired by the Germany’s Industry 4.0 with reference to the inclusion of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the supply chain and extensive use of new information technologies. MIC 2025 accentuates terms such as “indigenous innovations” and “self-sufficiency” which aggressively intends to increase the domestic market share of Chinese suppliers for basic core components and valuable materials by the year 2025 [183]. Thus, it imposes devastating fear of distorting global markets and negatively affects US and Germany [184]. MIC 2025 focuses on ten industrial sectors, namely, (i) advanced marine equipment and high-tech vessels; (ii) advanced rail and equipment; (iii) agricultural machinery and technology; (iv) aviation and aerospace equipment; (v) biopharmaceuticals and high-end medical equipment; (vi) integrated circuits and new IT technology; (vii) high-end electronic equipment; (viii) high-end manufacturing control machinery and robotics; (ix) low and new-energy vehicles; (x) new and advanced materials [182]. The key focused industry 4.0 technologies for MIC2025 include cyber physical systems (CPS), Internet of things (IoT), cloud computing, Big data, artificial intelligence, and robotics [53].

3.2.4. Society 5.0

Society 5.0 or super smart society was officially coined in the 5th Science and Technology Basic Plan in FY2016-FY2020 by the Japanese’s Council for Science, Technology, and Innovation which was affirmed by a cabinet choice in January 2016 [115]. Society 5.0 aims to provide a common societal infrastructure for prosperity based on an advanced service platform [185]. It also aims to realize a society where people enjoy life to the fullest. The Society 5.0 is not only for prosperity of Japan but also countries worldwide [20]. In addition, Society 5.0 aims to create a cyber physical society in which citizens’ daily lives will be enhanced through increasingly close collaboration with artificially intelligent systems forming a super smart cyber physical system [186]. The Society 5.0 adverts to the new monetary society following the seeker gatherer (Society 1.0), peaceful agrarian (Society 2.0), modern social order (Society 3.0), and data social orders (Society 4.0) [185]. The technology focus of Society 5.0 includes [53] CPS, IoT, cyber security, cloud computing, Big data, artificial intelligence, and smart services/smart city.

3.2.5. Make in India

Make in India was initiated and launched in September 2014 by the Indian President as an initiative with the goal of positioning India in a forefront of global manufacturing and design [148]. It is a measure taken by the government of India to strengthen and improve competitiveness in the manufacturing sector by creating competitively priced and quality products. The flagship Make in India initiative aims to aggressively transform India into a manufacturing and technology hub. The prioritization of the manufacturing sector by this initiative was done after garnered considerable attention from all industry sectors which was based on the fact that the manufacturing sector of any economy is one of the key drivers of its employment and growth [124]. The key focus areas of the initiative include increased foreign direct investment (FDI) in manufacturing, minimize reliance on imports, enhance job opportunities, expand infrastructure, and promote technological evolution [148]. Its technology focus areas include industrial mobility, cloud platform, Big data analytics, and industrial cyber security. With these technologies, Make in India aims to achieve the best practices and strengthen India’s competitiveness in 25 industry sectors including automobile, defense, aviation, biotechnology, chemicals, electrical machinery, electronics, food processing, oil and gas, and pharmaceuticals [122].

3.2.6. Crafting the Future

Crafting the future is the strategic initiative of industry 4.0 of Mexico founded in 2016 with partnership from government entities (science and academia), companies (Intel, Continental Automotive, Honeywell, and the Volkswagen Group), and trade associations [52]. Mexico is well known for its cost competitiveness advantage (i.e., low-cost labour force and high-volume production) that has made it become a world-class manufacturing hub [72]. With its industry 4.0 initiatives, Mexico aspires to be competitive with technological advanced manufacturing super power countries (UK, Germany, US, etc.). Crafting the future initiative focuses on the key industry 4.0 technologies which include Internet of things, Big data, cloud computing, system integration, collaborative robots, modeling, and simulation [52]. These strategies focus on establishing smart factories in the production process via technological advancements which prioritizes the main industry sectors such as chemical industry, aerospace economy, automotive industry, space industry, energy sector, and logistics [53].

Generally, Crafting the future initiative has a similar goal of attaining competitiveness as the rest of the initiatives. It can be concluded that both industry 4.0 initiatives focus on boosting domestic manufacturing and beefing up SMEs with the use of industry 4.0 technologies. The visible difference that exists between the industry 4.0 initiatives is mainly on the technology focus areas. Each initiative has different technology focus areas except for the “Digital Strategy and the High-Tech Strategy 2025” which have no technology focus areas. They focus on all technology areas because they are mainly research and development- (R&D-) based initiatives. The industry 4.0 technologies adopted by each initiative are presented in Table 9.

TechnologyDS & HTS 2025MUSAMIC 2025Society 5.0Make in IndiaCF

Big data
3D printing
Cloud computing
Modeling and simulation
Smart services
Smart factory
Mobile devices
Cyber security
Advanced materials
System integration

AI: artificial intelligence, CPS: cyber physical system, and IoT: Internet of things.
3.3. East African Community on Industry 4.0
3.3.1. Definition of East African Community

The East African Community (EAC) is the regional intergovernmental organization of the Republics of Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, South Sudan, and the United Republic of Tanzania with its headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania. The EAC treaty was signed on 30 November 1999 and enacted on 7 July 2000 [187189]. The main objective of the EAC is to introduce policies and programs to promote cooperation among its member states for mutual benefits in a wide range of areas including political, economic, social, cultural affairs, research and technology, defence, security, and legal and judicial affairs [190]. The EAC has strongly established a number of autonomous institutions including the East African Development Bank (EAfDB) and the Inter-University Council of East Africa (IUCEA). Both the EAfDB and IUCEA are headquartered in Kampala, Uganda. The EAfDB is mainly involved in the cross-border financing of regional development programmes and projects and small and medium scale industries. IUCEA serves to facilitate contact between the universities of East Africa, to provide a forum for discussion on a wide range of academic and other matters relating to higher education and to help maintain high and comparable academic standards in the universities of East Africa. The EAC vision is to become a globally competitive upper middle-income region by 2050. This vision is the overall for its state partners, while each has its own vision as shown in Table 10 [189]. The availability of autonomous institutions and strategic visions is the strong asset for the EAC with some capabilities of supporting the race towards industry 4.0.

Partner stateTime frameStrategic visionReferences

UgandaVision 2040Transform Ugandan society from peasant to a modern prosperous country[191]
KenyaVision 2030Globally competitive and prosperous Kenya with a high quality of life[192]
RwandaVision 2020 and Vision 2050Become a middle-income country by 2020
High standard of living
TanzaniaVision 2025High quality of life anchored on peace, stability, unity, and good governance; rule of law, resilient economy, and competitiveness[195]
South SudanVision 2040Realizing freedom, equality, justice, peace, and prosperity for all[196]
BurundiVision 2025Sustainable peace and stability and achievement of global development commitments in line, Millennium Development Goals[197]
EACVision 2050Attain a prosperous, competitive, secure, and politically united East Africa[188]

3.3.2. Industry 4.0 Potentiality in EAC

The six major disruptive industry 4.0 technologies for Africa include Artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of things (IoT), Big data, 3D printing, Blockchain, and drones [6]. These are being utilized in five main domains: agriculture, energy, industry, regional integration, and wellbeing [6]. The industry 4.0 adoption by EAC depends majorly on continental effort. At the African level, the preparedness to industry 4.0 can be witnessed from the launched industry 4.0 initiatives including “EU-AU Digital Task force,” “Smart Africa,” and “One Africa Network.” Smart Africa is the program that the EAC is actively involved in. It was initiated and launched in 2013 by seven African Heads of State (Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda, South Sudan, Mali, Gabon, and Burkina Faso). At the EAC level, “One Network Area (ONA) roaming initiative” was initiated under the Northern Corridor Agreement. This could create an impetus environment for industry 4.0 technology in the EAC. At country level, only Rwanda has shown up while the rest such as Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania have well demonstrated their potential with very strong Information and Communications Technology (ICT) policies [6].

The tendency of digitization and automation and the increased use of ICT have been fancied as the main concept of industry 4.0 [198202]. Industry 4.0 demands further employee skills and competencies, such as ICT know-how, interdisciplinary competencies, and special personality traits. Besides industry 4.0 digital basis, knowledge and skills in ICT are compulsory as they paved way for this digital transformation [203207]. ICT has a profusion of new technologies including cloud computing, Big data, and Internet of things (IoT) that are heightening automation and accelerating digitalization, networking, and connectivity; resulting in increased levels of industrial intelligence [208, 209]. However, a poor ICT infrastructure in developing countries is thus one of the major challenges likely to debar governments from rapid adoption of industry 4.0 [127]. With these regards, ICT adoption among the EAC countries (Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, and South Sudan) was explored alongside industry 4.0.

(1) Rwanda. It is one of the three Africa countries (others being South Africa and Morocco) that have started developing industry 4.0 strategies alongside their ICT polices or created technology centres [138, 210]. The government of Rwanda has setup a “Centre for the Internet of Things (IoT)” in partnership with Inmarsat, the provider of global mobile satellite communications [6]. Centre for the Internet of Things (IoT) initiative aims to facilitate students’ learning, to develop IoT prototypes and to carry out academic research in the field of potential IoT solutions. Further, it strives to accelerate the deployment of the IoT and smart city solutions. Within the ICT policy directed by the SMART Rwanda Master Plan 2015–2020, there are initiatives that have been launched by both the Rwandese government and private sectors. The major ICT innovative initiatives include the IREMBO platform, Digital Ambassadors Program, Kigali Innovation City, and Rwanda’s ICT Hub Strategy 2024. The ICT policy has greatly developed Rwanda’s cultural and creative industry to the extent of becoming a global economy [211]. However, manufacturing sectors have not yet been fully revived for the country to harvest its goal of competitiveness in the vision 2020 [212214]. The new policy called “Made in Rwanda” is a holistic roadmap aimed at increasing economic competitiveness by enhancing Rwanda’s domestic market through value chain development. It is aligned with Rwanda’s aspiration to become an upper middle-income country by 2035 and higher income by 2050 [215]. This new policy has the capacity to strategize and promote industry 4.0 implementation in the country.

(2) Kenya. It is one of the African countries that have attained a lower middle-income status [190]. In the digital world, Kenya has been monikered as Africa’s “Silicon Savanah” [216, 217]. This has been due to the existence of a very strong focalized ICT policy underlined with its Vision 2030. In addition, technology in the mobile money system such as M-Pesa is unprecedented [218]. The M-Pesa (means mobile money) revolution has shaped Kenya’s digital space and placed Kenya ahead of other developing countries in the deployment and use of digital technology [219, 220]. M-Pesa is a mobile payment platform launched in 2007 as a partnership between Safaricom (telecommunication (telco) company), Commercial Bank of Africa, and Commercial Banks in Kenya [221]. Another incredible turning point following M-Pesa revolution was the launch of a virtual savings platform called “M-Shwari” and has been replicated across EAC, with “M-Pawa” in Tanzania and “Mokash” in Uganda and Rwanda. Similarly, KCB M-Pesa and Equitel for mobile banking were launched [221]. Within the ICT policy, a Government Digital Payments Taskforce known as eCitizen was launched. Other ICT innovative platforms include Drumnet, mFarm, and Ushahidi [192, 222]. Despite the strong ICT policy in the country [223], Kenya’s roadmap to industry 4.0 has remained unclear. Recently, the Kenya Association of Manufacturing (KAM) have proposed an agenda for securing the future of the manufacturing industry in Kenya on industry 4.0 and aims to develop a national policy framework and programme to implement industry 4.0 with sectoral bias [224]. This is still just on the paper work which will need to be implemented to show Kenya’s readiness to industry 4.0. Another strong asset of Kenya is vitally dependent on the heavy investment in renewable energy both in wind and geothermal power projects [224]. This creates a very strong avenue for industry 4.0 deployment and implementation as energy 4.0 is centered around renewable energy.

(3) Uganda. It has a strategic Vision 2040 where industrialization is the priority. In contrast, the country came out with a national industrial policy which does not prioritize manufacturing. This made the manufacturing sector less competitive by focusing on mainly agroprocessing and low-value manufacturing [225227]. Yet high-value manufacturing is the core for industrialization in most developing countries [225]. This is the reason why Uganda has not yielded positive results for industrialization in the past years [228]. The government of Uganda with a great potential has committed the country to develop a digital vision for Uganda known as Digital Uganda Vision (DUV). The DUV provides an overarching framework that responds to the Vision 2040 by providing a unified ICT policy direction [229]. The ICT policy driven by Vision 2040 is spearheaded by the Ministry of ICT which was purposely established to ensure growth and deployment of ICT in Uganda. Under the Ministry of ICT, there are several discussions being made on industry 4.0 from the policy viewpoint. In addition, the ICT officers are being trained on industry 4.0 technologies covering wide-ranging fields such as artificial intelligence (AI), Big data, Blockchain technologies, and cloud computing. Moreover, the Blockchain Association of Uganda has already been founded and the Nakawa Innovation Centre has been established [230]. This shows some sort of readiness to embrace industry 4.0 although there is still much to be done by Uganda to be ready for this industrial revolution colossus.

(4) Tanzania. This country, on the other hand, is improving productivity and competitiveness of its industrial sector which is directed by 5th Phase Government Plan under Tanzania’s Vision 2025 [231, 232]. The country has a strong ICT policy though not much have been reported on it [233]. However, the potential positive impacts of ICT are mainly in large-scale agriculture and firm’s business processes [234]. One of the strongest assets of Tanzania is its ability to accommodate the concept of sustainability by going for more advanced and green technology, hence achieving increase in its productivity [235]. In addition, the Centre of Excellence for ICT in East Africa (CENIT@EA) has been launched in 2019 by the EAC in collaboration with the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and hosted in Tanzania. It aims at providing relevant skills, capacities, and knowledge to shape the digital transformation. CENIT@EA is a consortium between the Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology (NM-AIST), the University of Oldenburg, and other East African and German universities and institutions [236]. This strong collaboration is very important for setting up profound requisite digital skills, and thus eventually lay good environment for industry 4.0 implementation.

(5) Burundi and South Sudan. These two EAC member countries have failed to perform in both economies and digital revolution due to unstable political weather of the countries which contributed to chronic poverty [190, 237, 238]. As a result, their developmental visions majorly aimed at restoring peace and stability, and they are the least competitive in the EAC and Africa at large [239]. These countries are yet to setup strong ICT policies to enable them start thinking about the disruptive industrial revolution. In addition, resources, finances, and skill workforce are vitally needed for industry 4.0 adaptation. Therefore, these countries need a lot of assistance from the international funding bodies to foster their readiness to industry 4.0.

3.3.3. Comparison of EAC Member Countries

All the EAC members have a strong ICT policy except Burundi and South Sudan. These two countries had limited studies about them, and they were excluded from the comparative study. Kenya and Rwanda are leading on ICT deployment. However, Rwanda is currently developing many new ICT innovative initiatives with the capabilities to harvest the competitiveness. Importantly, full exploitation of ICT potential in a country is instrumental regarding the realization of industry 4.0. However, the applications of ICT have been mainly centred around governance and services in each country as shown in Table 11.


E-government (eTAX, mTrac, e-water)Public[241, 242]
Mobile money platform (MTN, Airtel)2009Public-private[243]
M-Shwari, M-Pawa, and Mokasa2012Private[244, 245]
Government Digital Payments Taskforce (eCitizen) or e-governmentPublic[246, 247]
PRIMR (Primary Math and Reading)2011Public-private[248]
TanzaniaICT4D or e-government agencyPublic[249, 250]
E-government strategy 20132013Public[252]
RwandaIREMBO e-government platform, one-stop e-government2015Public-private[253255]
Digital Ambassadors Program (DAP)2019Public[256]
Kigali Innovation City (KIC)2016Public[257, 258]
Rwanda’s ICT Hub Strategy 20242019Public[259]
Tap&Go Smartcard2015Public-private[253]
Smart city Rwanda2019Public[260]

On the side of industry 4.0 initiative, EAC member countries have shown daunting preparedness with the exception of Rwanda. However, on the other side of industry 4.0 technologies application, majority have responded well. The analysis of industry 4.0 technologies applications and startups was based on the study “Unlocking the African Potential for the Fourth Industrial Revolution” [6]. Evidence of the list of industry 4.0 technologies currently being applied in industrial sectors and the number of their startups shows that Kenya has the highest followed by Rwanda, Uganda, and then Tanzania. Tables 12 and 13 illustrate the current state of industry 4.0 technology applications and the startups in the major industrial sectors as per the year 2019, respectively.

Industrial sectorUgandaKenyaTanzaniaRwanda

Agriculture✓ Big data✓ AI✓ Drones✓ Big data
✓ IBS✓ Big data✓ IoT✓ IBS
✓ IoT✓ Drones✓ IoT
✓ MS
✓ IoT
✓ Robots

Healthcare✓ AI✓ IBS✓ Drones✓ AI
✓ Big data✓ MS✓ Drones
✓ IoT✓ IoT✓ IBS
✓ MS
✓ IoT

Industry○ N/A✓ IBS○ N/A✓ Drones
✓ 3D printing

Energy✓ MS✓ MS✓ IoT✓ IoT
✓ IoT✓ IoT

Education✓ IBS✓ AI✓ IBS✓ Big data
✓ IoT✓ Big data✓ IoT✓ IoT
✓ Robots✓ IBS
✓ MS
✓ IoT

Crosscutting✓ IoT✓ Drones✓ Drones✓ Drones
✓ Drones

MSFI✓ IoT✓ Blockchain✓ Blockchain✓ Blockchain
✓ MS✓ Big data✓ IoT✓ Big data
✓ IBS✓ IoT✓ 3D printing✓ MS
✓ 3D printing✓ MS✓ IBS

IBS: Internet-based services, IoT: Internet of things, AI: artificial intelligence, MS: mobile services, N/A: not available, and MSFI: Modernized Services and Financial Inclusion.


Big data
3D printing

IoT: Internet of things and AI: artificial intelligence.
3.4. Strengthening Industry 4.0 Adoption in EAC

Evidence from the series of industry 4.0 initiatives being launched from time to time shows that most developed countries have started enjoying the benefits of industry 4.0. Moreover, fabulous efforts are being enacted by these developed nations to ensure success in the industry 4.0 arena [74, 261, 262]. Yet, industry 4.0 is still a mystery to many developing and least-developed countries especially in Africa. A number of them are still stuck in industry 1.0 while others are struggling to transit to industry 2.0. These developing countries have first to enjoy the full benefits of even industry 2.0. Moreover, a number of them still lack access to electricity even for those that have it, it remains highly unreliable [18]. Seven strategies have been proposed for strengthening the industry 4.0 adoption in the EAC: education and training, public-private partnership (PPP) and policy innovation, open innovation initiative, research and development and innovation (R&D&I), collaboration and partnership, international and region cooperation, and small and medium enterprise focus as illustrated in Figure 4.

3.4.1. International Collaboration and Partnerships

Industry 4.0 disruption is leaving no room for status quo, and the developing countries or least-developed countries must get ready to leapfrog either willingly or forcefully. Industry 4.0 is a global phenomenon, which requires an international response [263]. Its adaptation and implementation are very expensive processes in both finance and requisite digital skills [264]. Therefore, international collaboration with those countries that are far much advanced in industry 4.0 could be a better option for faster industry 4.0 adaptation in the EAC. The benefits of collaboration and partnership can be taken from India as a life example. India has very strong collaboration with key player countries such as Germany (Indo-German) [265], Japan (Indo-Japan) [266], and United Kingdom (Indo-UK) [266]. Further, South Africa has also demonstrated very strong collaboration with other countries. For instance, “SA-EU strategic partnership” is a collaboration between South Africa and the European Union. The collaboration prospect covers many dimensions ranging from research (universities), technology transfer, skill development, investment in and mobilization of science, technology, and innovation capacities to benchmarking [267]. To this end, industry 4.0 is dependent on the collaboration and partnerships that combines digital and industrial knowledge. Therefore, forming of such partnerships enables the deployment of Industry 4.0 within the country as well as production companies [207].

3.4.2. International and Regional Cooperation

The international and regional cooperation plays roles in industry 4.0 adoption and implementation among countries. A number of international cooperations around the globe are striving to ensure success of their member countries in the industry 4.0 arena. For instance, the BRICS which is the cooperation between Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa have developed a number of working groups with initiatives to prepare its members for industry 4.0 disruptions [268, 269]. The same efforts are being enacted by other international or regional cooperations such as the European Union (EU) and the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC). Therefore, it is necessary for countries to form strong cooperation or join the cooperation either at regional or international levels in order to enjoy the full benefits of industry 4.0 or to activate the technological leapfrogging for the case of least-developed countries. EAC is the regional intragovernmental political and economic union [270, 271], just like the GCC. The EAC should develop ingenious strategies that will prepare its members for industry 4.0 disruptions and to awaken least-developed members (Burundi and South Sudan). This is because cooperation among countries is an incredible instrument for leapfrogging into industry 4.0 paradise.

3.4.3. Education and Training

Although there are a number of collaboration platforms existing between the countries within or outside the EAC, new such platforms should be created with a focus on the ongoing digital transformation. It is actually the work of the governments to support the establishment of joint industry 4.0 collaboration platforms, centres of excellence, and incubators to alleviate the diffusion of knowledge and technology [272, 273]. However, at the university level, joint research programs and exchange programs should be created to surrogate the skilling of labour force in the deployment of industry 4.0 infrastructures [274]. So far so good, as there are many student and staff exchange programs in the EAC. For example, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) which is currently strengthening the learning of students majorly in technology and engineering [274]. However, more of these programs should focus particularly on harnessing industry 4.0 technologies from perspectives of their development to applications. Besides education, training is prerequisite for industry 4.0 adoption as it demands new set of kills from the workforce. The practical example can be witnessed from a number of countries including India which launched an industry 4.0 skill development initiative called Skill India [126]. Similarly, the BRICS Cooperation also has an industry 4.0 skill development working group which aims to develop the digital skills among its partner countries [3]. In this respect, the government and private sectors should heavily invest in training and information activities to train operators [74]. Otherwise, the EAC countries would remain technologically obsolete with respect to their competitors.

3.4.4. Open Innovation Initiative

A lucrative strategy to toughen the adoption of industry 4.0 within the private sector and academic entities is through joining open innovation initiatives and technology membership organizations. One of the examples is “Accenture open innovation initiative.” It is a leading global initiative, providing a broad range of services and solutions in strategy, consulting, digital, technology, and operations [275]. This initiative is capable of boosting large companies as well as small high-tech firms and startups, hence laying solid grounds for industry 4.0 adaptation [276, 277]. Besides, the Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) is an internationally recognized open technology membership organization that provides a common understanding to promote interpretation and deployment of industrial internet of things (IIoT) among companies through published guidelines, reference frameworks, and specifications [278]. The IIC was founded in 2014 by five US’s giant high-tech companies (GE, IBM, Cisco, AT&T, and Intel) [279]. Many companies around the world are currently enjoying the benefits from such an astonishing organization. Innovations are essential for successful entry into the era of industry 4.0, and many governments try to promote innovation. However, corporate leaders of companies cannot easily determine innovative initiatives, as they are time consuming, costly, and likely to fail, which is dubbed as a “leadership gap” in an organization [280, 281]. Therefore, joining or being part of already established innovative initiatives is the option for the companies to benefit and sustain their competitiveness in the current dynamic business environment.

3.4.5. Research, Development, and Innovation (R&D&I)

R&D&I has become an unprecedented strategy for beefing up industry 4.0 adoption at all levels (education, industry, country, and regional). The governments should emphasize more on science, technology, and innovation (STI) to strengthen research and development which builds a strong ecosystem for industry 4.0 adoption in EAC countries. In the light, feasible examples can be observed from the US and Germany. With the US, it has the Manufacturing USA initiative which launched 14 institutes focusing on research and development [155], while the Germany’s High-Tech Strategy 2025 has a mission-oriented approach with 12 research areas including finding new sources for new knowledge and combating cancer [153]. Tout ensemble, there is a need for the governments and higher education to bridge the research gaps and gain opportunities for country’s development by fully developing the research agenda of industry 4.0 [282]. So, by applying the macroeconomic indicator, the implementation of R&D&I results and industry 4.0 influence in EAC countries can be measured [283].

3.4.6. Public-Private Partnership and Policy Innovation

Sound government, corporate, academic, and civil society leadership and collaboration (private-public partnership) capabilities to respond to technological, market, and other change requirements are remarkably emblematic of industry 4.0 adoption in a country [121, 284]. The ICT policy will have its limits very soon as industry 4.0 disruption is progressing. For this reason, the EAC needs to consider an industry 4.0 strategy alongside the ICT policy to be successfully competitive. This calls for the governments to rethink about their leadership infrastructure. There is a need for structural transformation by developing national policies on industry 4.0, just like the ICT policy was formed by the EAC member countries [259]. This is the strategy that has been adopted by many countries including Malaysia [130], Thailand [129], and India [123] to strengthen the adoption and penetration of industry 4.0. In this regard, the successful adoption of industry 4.0 truly relies on the ability of governments, business, and citizens to commit in supporting the transformation of the society into a modern and smart society driven by advanced technology, skills, innovation, and responsive policy [127]. Most importantly, all the policies must be fully compatible with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in order to effectively deal with the challenges of industry 4.0 and ensure a sustainable economic growth [285].

3.4.7. Small and Medium Enterprises Focus

SMEs are considered as a backbone of the economy because of their strong position as an employer. Thus, they attract attention both from policy makers and scientists [286, 287]. In this respect, a great opportunity for the future lies in the transfer of industry 4.0 expertise and technologies in SMEs and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). The practical example of SMEs fostering to ensure success in industry adoption can be seen from countries such as US, Germany, China, UK, and India [201, 288], as they have developed a collaboration network through SMEs manufacturing support programs within their initiatives including Manufacturing USA [60], Made in China 2025 [183], Mittelstand 4.0 [88, 89], Catapult Centres [27], and Make in India [148], respectively. The point is that industry 4.0 disruption requires totally different maturity models for SMEs to that of multinational enterprises having higher driving forces and lower barriers to industry 4.0. However, SMEs have many hurdles to adopt industry 4.0 technologies in its infancy [289]. Thus, it is the role of the government to develop a strong industry 4.0 roadmap for SMEs [209]. In most cases, organizational resistance at both employee and middle management levels can significantly hinder the introduction of industry 4.0 technologies, yet these technologies can also transform management functions [290]. Therefore, establishment of an innovative business model through learning factory concept and innovation laboratory development is central for industry 4.0 adoption in both SMEs and large companies [291, 292].

4. Conclusions

The present study has successfully explored industry 4.0 initiatives launched by countries worldwide based on an electronic literature survey. The estimated percentage of countries with the established industry 4.0 initiatives in regions might not depict the real-life percentage, as the study was solely dependent on the electronic literature and limited by the availability of published information. Moreover, only published papers in English were considered. Nevertheless, the study estimates the numbers of industry 4.0 initiatives launched in countries around the world. Evidences from the literature shows a number of countries have not yet launched industry 4.0 initiatives. The result of the present study highlights that the Europe region leads the world as half of its countries have established industry 4.0 strategies already. However, Middle East and Africa are still at nascent stages of adoption with only few countries having developed industry 4.0 initiatives. Industry 4.0 technologies and initiatives are the complementary DNA of industry 4.0. For this reason, implementing industry 4.0 technologies alone is just not enough to succeed in the industry 4.0 arena. Every country should ensure that industry 4.0 technologies adoption advances with launching of initiatives. This is what the industry 4.0 pioneer countries (Germany and US) have pursued and are currently focusing more on research and development in “science, technology, and innovation (STI)” as the promising strategy to harness sustainable competitiveness in the present dynamic business environment. Yet, the concept and the infrastructure of industry 4.0 have not been fully comprehended in EAC. This calls for strong collaboration and coordination with industry 4.0 pioneer and expert countries in order to acquire the indispensability such as skills, knowledge, technology development, and method design.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare that there are no conflicts of interest regarding the publication of this paper.


The authors OB and GT are grateful to the World Bank and the Inter-University Council of East Africa (IUCEA) for the scholarships awarded to them through the Africa Center of Excellence II in Phytochemicals, Textiles, and Renewable Energy (ACE II-PTRE) at Moi University, Kenya. The authors are grateful to Technopolis Group, Research ICT Africa, and Tambourine Innovation Ventures for their study on “Unlocking Potential of the Fourth Industrial Revolution in Africa” initiated by the African Development Bank (AfDB), which provided astonishing information on industry 4.0 potential in East Africa and made this electronic survey successful.


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