Country in focus – Africa’s job dilemma

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Economic development results from creating more productive jobs for an ever-increasing workforce. In the past, that has meant industrialisation and many low-income countries in Africa still hope to walk this well-trodden path out of poverty.

Industrialisation and integration into global value chains are essential for achieving rapid economic growth and creating many jobs for Africa’s young population. There is, however, a problem. Even where industrialisation is putting down deep roots, few good jobs are being created. Ethiopia, for example, has built export-oriented sector manufacturing clothes and shoes; Tanzania has a manufacturing base that serves domestic and regional markets.

But the bulk of the increase in Economic Development is coming from foreign aid as opposed to genuine job creation driven by startups and SME’s. Many small firms across Africa have literally no Government support meaning many fail to get off the ground before they can really get started.

Is tech also killing off jobs in Africa?

A report from the World Economic Forum outlines the threat to Africa’s hopes for industrialisation and employment: It has been estimated that, from a technological standpoint, 41% of all work activities in South Africa are susceptible to automation, as are 44% in Ethiopia, 46% in Nigeria, 48% in Mauritius, 52% in Kenya and 53% in Angola.’

Not so, says Chioma Agwuegbo from the World Economic Forum, “Technology has been more of an enabler for Africa as opposed to an enemy to jobs that developed nations have seen through automation”. Tech investment from China has opened new markets. It has flattened the globe for software engineers to work across the whole continent and beyond.

Could Africa become the new Silicon Valley in years to come? I would not best against it.

Kris Paterson is a writer for the global job search engine

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