Public sector monitoring and evaluation in the Fourth Industrial Revolution: Implications for Africa
The current era of transformative scientific and technological advances is reshaping traditional government business as it is blurring geographical boundaries and posing a challenge to existing regulatory frameworks. Aim: This article explores the implications of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) on current public sector monitoring and evaluation (ME) in Africa. Setting: The 4IR (also called Industry 4.0) is thought to bring about enormous benefits associated with increased efficiency and effectiveness in service delivery. However, even with the highly anticipated opportunities related to automated and digital transformations in the 4IR, governments in African countries need to understand the challenges ahead and will need to measure and mitigate the impact of the unpredictable and rapidly changing products and services created for the public. Methods: Using the documentary review method to collect data, this research answers the following guiding questions: (1) How has the 4IR been harnessed in Africa to improve public sector service delivery? (2) How can the 4IR be harnessed to improve ME in the public sector in Africa? and (3) What are the implications of the 4IR technologies on public sector ME in Africa? Results: Findings reveal that various 4IR disruptive technologies have already been fully adopted in public service delivery in Africa. The 4IR disruptive technologies have the capacity to capture or collect and analyse multi-dimensional information or data from multiple contextual variables, with minimal costs and time in both qualitative and quantitative formats. However, findings disclose that the use of big data in evaluation requires extra new skills training and critical discussions among ME specialists, technologists, economists, engineers and tech companies as a whole so as to significantly enhance the quality, validity and reliability of the data captured by the technologies. Conclusion: Deep integration, collaboration and embracing change are needed to efficiently manage and control the multi-stakeholder nature of the 4IR innovative technologies. This article asserts that policies on the 4IR technologies need to be adaptive, inclusive, sustainable and human centred in order to efficiently regulate or guide these innovative technologies without curtailing the future opportunities.