4IR and water-smart agriculture in Southern Africa: A watch list of key technological advances

Horizon scanning is well-suited to the study of frontier technologies and innovation. In the case of Southern Africa, it is important to consider not only what is scientifically or technically possible, but also how it can be adapted to the specific regional context. For example, technologies cannot be used in the same way for large-scale commercial farmers and small-scale or subsistence farmers. The region also faces specific challenges, including unequal access to energy and connectivity. Gene editing technology is cheaper and easier than transgenic engineering, and it is also not as tightly controlled by a few companies. It may therefore develop in a more democratic way. In fact, there are already many African researchers conducting research on gene editing for drought resistant crops and breeds. The Africa Risk Capacity provides an example of how risk pooling allows the transfer of climate risk away from individual governments to pan-African climate response systems for natural disasters.