Africa’s youth need to have access to meaningful work opportunities, which is already a significant development policy concern. It will likely continue to be an issue given the population boom in Africa and the influx of young Africans anticipated to enter the labour force during the following 20 years.
Emerging technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) have been hailed as a game-changer that can hasten the economic transformation of poor nations, according to recent studies. African governments are being urged to plan and invest in this transformation by enhancing the capabilities of their labour force.
While the adoption of 4IR technologies in sub-Saharan Africa could result in significant economic growth and welfare benefits, it could also have a negative social and economic impact by creating an income and opportunity gap between workers with less education and those with more education, aggravating inequality trends.
What countervailing measures should African governments take to balance the need to foster the private investment necessary to create jobs using cutting-edge technology with the requirement to guarantee that all new workers have the fundamental abilities and infrastructure to make a living?
How likely is it that African manufacturers will use the new technology? Due to high costs and the fact that many technologies do not adequately address the specific obstacles to boosting productivity and profitability that face African producers, the adoption of new production technology in Africa has so far been gradual.
The authors of the new report, “From subsistence to disruptive innovation: Africa, the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and the future of jobs,” Louise Fox and Landry Signé, will participate in a conversation on September 26, 2022, hosted by the Brookings Africa Growth Initiative (AGI). The writers will try to address what are the present and future advantages of 4IR technology for Africa’s economic transformation, how probable is it that African producers will adopt the new 4IR technology and what effects will this have on inclusive development and jobs in the future.
Following a conversation with the authors, Justice Tei Mensah (Office of the Chief Economist, Africa Region at the World Bank) will offer his thoughts and summarise the most important policy options for African nations as they navigate this new era of emerging technologies and the continent’s future of work.