Africa needs to invest in a new age workforce to enhance global integration

05 March 2019 2 min. read
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While Africa is making its way towards economic growth and prosperity, investing in the future readiness of its workforce for the fourth industrial revolution is the key to achieving true integration with the global economy, according to global management consultancy A.T.Kearney.

According to Partner at the firm Theo Sibiya, as Africa – North and Sub-Saharan – has emerged from the cloud of political instability and economic impoverishment, the continent has failed to occupy the space in the global economy that it has the potential to, given its sizeable population and young demographic.

Sibiya attributes this slow integration process to a number of factors, including relapses into political instability, low levels of foreign investment and poor infrastructure. Nevertheless, the current trends in the global economy present an opportunity that the region could capitalise upon.

Africa needs to invest in a new age workforce to enhance global integration

The continent has a rapidly digitalising economy, particularly in light of the fact that it will have as many as 1 billion online users by as early as 2022. In this context, the continent could become a potential hub for development in the Industry 4.0 arena, which includes domains such as automation, Internet of Things and data analytics.

Given the fact that the continent has the lowest median age in the world, it is expected to have the largest workforce in decades to come. If this workforce were to be equipped with the skills that are required when working collaboratively with technology, several investors would rush to capitalise on this human capital.

“Although many may see the Fourth Industrial Revolution as a threat to jobs in the production environment, it could bring good news for Africa. Supply chains are being disrupted, the investment requirements are falling for 4IR technologies, and consumers’ needs are shifting. Furthermore, Africa has an almost blank canvas on which to quickly adopt new tools, and perhaps even leapfrog more developed nations along the way,” says Sibiya.

Nevertheless, analysis from A.T.Kearney and other researchers have revealed that Africa has a long way to go in realising this goal, and currently lacks the investment required to develop such a new age workforce. “This will require a comprehensive and far-reaching course of action that addresses education needs, rapid digital network development, and the provision of an enabling policy framework and environment that fosters entrepreneurship,” he added.