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Could Tech further deepen Africa’s unemployment woes?

January 25, 2017 • Features, General, Top Stories

Tesla's fully automated factory. Could tech further deepen unemployment. (Source: Industry week)

Tesla’s fully automated factory. Could tech further deepen unemployment. (Source: Industry week)

On the African continent, one issue that is apparent in almost every single country, is the damning unemployment rate. It is a constant struggle on the continent as populations continue to grow at a rate which the number of jobs available just can’t keep up with. This looks to be further aggravated by the latest developments in technology and automation.
According to an account in the Business Report, global CEO’s, at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, have reinforced the claim that tech advancements will continue to take away more and more jobs.

Tech to take your job?

This threatens to not affect one or two industries but could potentially take jobs away from numerous  fields of work. A taxi driver could be replaced by driverless cars, health professional by artificial intelligence, or even the barman at your local pub could be replaced by a robot. This will be intensified in the mass production/manufacturing industries where machines could prove to be more cost effective and increase productivity and could take away thousands of jobs at a time.
A report in Reuters highlighted the thoughts of some CEO’s at the WEF in Davos. “Jobs will be lost, jobs will evolve and this revolution is going to be ageless, it’s going to be classless and it’s going to affect everyone,” said Meg Whitman, chief executive of Hewlett Packard Enterprise.
“I think what we’re reaching now is a time when we may have to find alternative careers through our lifetime,” Microsoft Chief Executive Satya Nadella told Reuters.
In the last 10 years, technology has taken away more jobs than any other factor, and John Drzik, head of global risk at insurance broker Marsh, expects more of the same.”That is going to raise challenges, particularly given the political context,” Drzik, who helped compile the WEF report, said.

Widening gap
Technological advancements require governments, businesses and academic institutions to develop more educated and highly skilled workforces, executives in Davos said.
But this shift to a skilled workerforce also widens the income gap and fuels growing inequality. This touches on another issue that plagues the African continent where inequality is among the highest in the world.

The Way Forward
While it is near impossible to stop the evolution of technology, there needs to be a realization from major companies that if they ignore the issue of unemployment it will only get worse. There is no way to determine how fast and to what extent, but it is clear that jobs will be lost to technology and if the issue is not dealt with, the inequalities in Africa could be further deepen to a point where there could be no way back.

Dean Workman

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