Within less than two decades it will be cheaper to operate robots in US factories than hire workers in Africa, a new report warns.
Falling automation costs are predicted to cause job losses as manufacturers return to richer economies.Some analysts say poorer countries could be less impacted by this trend, however the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) suggests otherwise.
But its report adds African nations have time to prepare for the change.
"African countries must not shy away from manufacturing, but instead prepare by increasing access to internet, investing in technical skills and promoting technological innovation," said Karishma Banga a senior research officer at ODI.
ODI's report, Digitalisation and the Future of Manufacturing in Africa, found that in furniture manufacturing, the cost of operating robots and 3D printers in the US will be cheaper than Kenyan wages by 2034.
In Ethiopia, ODI predicts robotic automation will be cheaper than Ethiopian workers between 2038 and 2042.