Is Tech In Africa A Job Killer Or Job Creator?

Written by Staff
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Photo by bruce mars on Unsplash

Everyone agrees jobs is a priority of the 21st century on the continent. But will technology help or hinder? Our experts push aside the distinction to focus on skills, mind-sets and structural reform…

It is the first of May, international day of workers, at the Athlone Stadium in Cape Town. Paul Mashatile, dressed in the trademark yellow and green T-shirt of the ruling African National Congress (ANC), is speaking to a packed audience of trade unionists dressed in red.

“There are many of our people looking for jobs, many young people who have finished college and university looking for jobs,” says Mashatile, treasurer general of the ANC. “We want growth that is accompanied by meaningful employment.”

From The Africa Report. Story by By Nicholas Norbrook.

Mashatile is not exaggerating about the youth unemployment crisis. One in every two young South Africans lacks a job. The large number of unemployed youth in Africa is a problem that is slowly coming into view as one of the biggest challenges of the 21st century.

“It is a recipe for social unrest,” said Sudanese telecoms billionaire and governance enthusiast Mo Ibrahim, speaking at our The Africa Report Debates on 6 April in Abidjan. The theme was ‘The new tech revolution – job creator or job killer?’

Ibrahim added: “These guys will go and join Boko Haram. They go to the Mediterranean trying to cross into Europe. That’s what is going to happen.”

And while many fete the economic progress of the continent in recent decades, it has not necessarily helped employ younger generations.

“We have had growth, yes – 8, 9, 10% – but we have no jobs. It is jobless growth,” added Zyad Limam, editor of Afrique Magazine, pointing to Africa’s reliance on exporting raw commodities. A recent report from the African Development Bank (AfDB) backs him up: “Between 2000 and 2008, employment grew at an annual average of 2.8%, roughly half the rate of economic growth.”

Read more at The Africa Report.