Making the Digital Economy More Inclusive

By Diptesh Soni 

Across the world, there is an inescapable sense that the machines are coming, and they’re going to take our jobs. This fear is not new. From the cotton gin, to the tractor, to the assembly line and beyond, jobs have faced and will continue to face threats from technological advances.

But throughout these disruptions, large-scale unemployment has typically been avoided: either machines could not do many of the innately human things people could do, or technology so drastically brought down costs that new markets were unlocked, in turn requiring more workers to serve new customers. Today, both these factors are playing out across sub-Saharan Africa.

Africa commands a meagre 1.5% share of the world’s total manufacturing output, and the low number of jobs available in manufacturing is, in part, leading to the growth of service-based employment. Technology is rapidly reducing the cost of serving consumers across industries as diverse as financial services, transportation, and hospitality – and is allowing products and services that were traditionally only accessed by the privileged few to reach a wide pool of new customers.

Greater internet and mobile penetration, the development of online market places, and changes in user and consumer behaviour are creating technology-enabled business models across the continent. It is precisely at this juncture that technology can be used to create job opportunities for Africa’s burgeoning youth population.

Read the full article on African Business Magazine.

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