Digitalisation in Africa

Posted on December 10, 2017 12:31 am

Digitalization basically means how consumer’s digital journey has evolved in recently and how quickly it will continue to change.As digital technology becomes more widely used, associated skillsets will become more highly-valued, and some more traditional jobs may have to change pace to keep up.African countries are facing critical issues on privacy and data security, massive growth in data consumption, the need for connections that are not only fast but also uninterrupted and gearing up for the Internet of Things. Most African economies have seen ten years of continuous economic growth an admirable position given the global economic events of the last decade.However, as African economies are picking up speed and by 2050 African economy will be reportedly the fourth largest up from sixth. As a whole, African economy may need to adapt to continue to stay relevant, and a large part of adaptation will be driven by a changing workforce. It is forecast to be one of people with high skills providing valued services, with many of these services and skills relying increasingly on an appreciation of connected technology.Africa’s digital economy is predicted to grow from 12% to 35% by 2025 and countries need to be ready.This means a workforce that is prepared for future technological requirements, with the right skills to take advantage of opportunities presented. The impact on the workplace of technology, digitalization, and automation is not only to dictate what jobs will exist in the future, but where they will be performed from globalization, and how they will be performed through collaboration.In both cases, technology skills would become increasingly essential to succeeding in the workforce of the future.This is true for basic technology literacy that will be required in the majority of roles, as well as deep specializations and skills development to take advantage of emerging roles and industries.Just take the Internet of Things to see how transformative these changes can be. For example, on average, an African household has four SIM cards. In the future, the same households will have SIM cards for TV, washing machine, refrigerator, air-conditioner, micro wave among others. In a nutshell, a person in Africa might have more SIMs tomorrow than a family of four has today.The incredible domination of the Internet also opens up an unprecedented number of risks. In the past couple of years, there have been very real and very serious cases.

Data also got stolen in several major telco operators in Africa. Such risks have completely reshaped how African business work, who has access to what, what is password protected, what retailers or vendors can access. Due to public awareness, regulations in countries like Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, South Africa among others are getting increasingly strict to better protect consumers. All this has a deep impact on how businesses design and upgrade systems. The distinction between Information and Communication Technology jobs and non-ICT jobs will become less absolute, a shift that is already occurring. More than ten million Africans are employed in non-ICT roles regularly use ICT skills as part of their job.In the next decade more than three quarters of Africans employees will interact professionally with technology in some way, requiring at least conversant tech skills.Furthermore, half of the jobs will require people to be able to use, develop, or manage digital systems.Such impacts will include more flexible working, more immediacy, faster business operations, and greater collaboration.A more connected labour marketplace means specializations and skills can be used around the continent, not just around individual country. Similarly, African companies will be able to offer greater flexibility, and opening up access to a more agile workforce means companies and employees can reap mutual benefits together, then part ways easily as projects develop and evolve.It also means that the traditional notion of a career will likely evolve. No longer will Africans need to commit working life to one company. Those aged 15 years old in 2017 are predicted to have an average of 10 jobs in their lifetime, spread over three industries. Some of these potential jobs didn’t exist five years ago, and many of them will take advantage of a growing technology sector and skillset. Some change is more readily visible for our customers and employees, such as the shift from prepaid to postpaid or from physical to online. That business focus is shifting to online by firms improving their website and making applications for customers and retailers. The digitalization impact of technology in Africa is twofold in my view. One that is infiltrating existing industries and jobs, to make them more technology-enabled and the other one creating brand new jobs, industries, markets, and companies. All Africans have the chance to capitalize on these emerging opportunities well into the future, no matter where they live in the continent.

Contador Harrison