Africa is at the cusp of the industrial revolution with the capacity to become the epicentre of a global renaissance. The emerging disruption requires blue ocean ideas to radicalize new thinking, uphold compelling values, and establish fresh perspectives in order to entrench a fundamental approach to the remaking of Africa as the world’s biggest economic hub. Africa is well known for leapfrogging into the future and this would be no exception on the future of work.
Exponential economic growth, exponential technology and exponential youth population would be the key drivers of its strategic emergence. Africa’s current population is over 1.3 Billion, about 16.64% of the total world population with a median age of 19.4 years well ahead of other continents in terms of youthful energy. According to the World Economic Forum by 2050, Africa will be home to 1 Billion young people. With growing demand for food globally, Africa seats atop about 60% of the world’s uncultivated arable land according to a Mckinsey report. With an outcry for global food and cravings for organic food production Africa holds the key to saving mankind with its ability to feed the world.
About 210 tech startups across Africa secured US$ 334.5 Million worth of investment in 2018 alone, the continent is gradually deepening its tech ecosystem to galvanize a continental revolution across all sectors for economic impact. Agritech innovation is also enjoying continental spotlight which will help accelerate the needed Agricultural disruption. Sub-Saharan Africa for instance, currently houses six of the globe’s 10 fastest-growing economies, a pointer to the coming economic shift.
While it is obvious that with manpower and machine power integration, radical disruption across all industries is inevitable championing a more proactive innovation roadmap is critical for quantum economic growth. According to Thomas Frey, Google Top rated Futurist speaker, around 2 billion jobs are expected to disappear by 2030 due to automation. African governments must as a matter of priority create enabling environments and corresponding support to credible initiatives centred on upskilling and reskilling the workforce through the development of a digital curricular that will advance the radical shift as new jobs are recreated.
The continent parades 54 countries, and over 600 institutions of higher learning yet plagued with leadership crisis, infrastructural deficit and brazen corruption – a paradox that continue to haunt its citizenry. The need to transform these centres of learning into tech powerhouses to further empower youths to deliver ingenious inventions for the continent is one critical area that must not be ignored. This disruption is also igniting a new wave of workers: digital nomads, freelancers and remote workforce delivering value across virtual spaces; disrupting, refracting the long standing 9-5 tradition is the model. The gig economy according to the Economist is a $50 Billion dollar a year industry – a highly competitive economy.
Despite challenging experiences the African youths face, many have continued to soldier on as laser-focused change-makers from Basil Okpara, the 9 year old Nigerian that built over 30 mobile games and 20 teenage South Africans who built a plane in an unprecedented manner telling the world what the African youth can achieve with just a little push, a feat they achieved in just ten days. This is some out of many all over Africa championing revolutionary ideas to galvanize change: Kenya, Egypt, Congo, Malawi, South Africa, Cameroon, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and the list goes on across the regions of Africa. These youths continue to soar amidst huge infrastructural deficits and poor government support.
As the new machine age takes centre stage and the era of quality and volume explodes, we must be strategically empowered and positioned as an individual, as a community, as a nation, and as a continent, to become heavier on technology.