Around the world, and especially in Africa, rapid digitization and the spread of new technologies are ushering in a new era of economic disruption. This has ignited a global debate about the implications for labor markets and the future of work. So far, the future of work discussion has focused mainly on advanced economies and on industrial jobs, which raises questions about its relevance for low-income countries in general and Africa in particular.
A new World Bank report, “The Future of Work in Africa: Harnessing the Potential of Digital Technologies for All” examines this issue in the African context. By examining how adopting digital technologies may transform work in sub-Saharan Africa, the authors conclude that economies in the region may be able to turn the promise of a digital revolution into reality. To do so, they will need to prioritize three “Es”: enabling entrepreneurship; enhancing the productivity of the informal sector; and extending social protection coverage. Such an approach requires a competitive business environment that can guarantee the availability of affordable digital infrastructure services as well as incentives that spur the adoption of digital and related technologies across all farms and firms.
On Thursday, October 17, the Global Economy and Development Program’s Africa Growth Initiative hosted a discussion on how African policymakers can harness these new technologies to create jobs and grow their economies.