Thanks to unprecedented technological change, "we are at the dawn of a new era", the UN deputy chief told the World Economic Forum in South Africa on Thursday.
Amina Mohammed said that technological advances bring much promise. But they also bring unpredictability in a world "already unsettled by resurgent geopolitical conflicts, climate change, and other global challenges".
Digital technology connects people across the world and provides low-cost access to information. It can also improve educational opportunities and access to medical services via remote, digital devices.
At the same time, inequality is growing, said Ms. Mohammed:
"For African countries to reap the full benefits of the 4th Industrial Revolution, national policy, laws and regulation should provide better direction and enabling environment for technological progress."