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Automation threatens 51% of jobs in SSA

 Statistician-General, others advocate data mining, skill upgrades
Certain people will feel the pain of automation more acutely than others, especially in the sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) region. About 51 per cent of jobs in SSA is currently said to be at threat of losing out if adequate measures are not taken.

Smart machines, robots, Artificial Intelligence, Augmented Reality, and other forms of automation could either be an economic poison or cure in a developing country like Nigeria – and this change will affect how businesses worldwide outsource work.

Speaking in Lagos at the DABConference 2019, organized by Information and Data Analytic Foundation (iDAF) the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Fireside Analytics, Shingai Manjengwa, speaking on ‘Future of Work’, said automation forms one of the most critical part of the future of work because it has the potential to replace 51 per cent of jobs across multiple sectors that Africa is dependent on.

Manjengwa, whose company is based in Canada, said Africa’s future of work story will be different from developed markets because the challenges and requirement differs.

Other researchers have also claimed that automation could hit men harder than women, because they are more likely to work in transportation and construction. In comparison, around 70 per cent of the roles in relatively safe occupations, such as health care, personal services and education, are staffed by women.

But the Fireside Analytics CEO believed that with much of the workforce of tomorrow, Africa can program the requisite skills today by embracing data science.

According to her, the big data market is worth $42 billion and Africans are well positioned to contribute significantly to this economy due to three factors, namely, favorable demographics; high and increasing internet penetration and changing education trends.

From his perspective, Special Guest at the event, the Statistician-General of the Federation, Dr. Yemi Kale, represented by Lola Talabi-Oni, in a presentation titled: ‘How technology and Big Data Has the Potential to Drive and Revolutionise Our Economy,’ said capital accumulation, labour productivity and technological innovation, according to economists, are the three main sources of growth in an economy like Nigeria, however, the law of diminishing returns sets in as increase in capital or labour will correspond to economic growth only up to a point before output begins to decline.

Thus, Dr. Kale said, in the long-run, technological innovation wins – the Fourth Industrial Revolution!

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“Technological innovation has been driven largely by Data. Technology has been driven by rapid innovation, and in the current fourth industrial revolution, technology has been largely driven by rapidly increasing volumes of data produced and consumed at a significant pace.

“Why has data grown so important? Data plays key role in shaping almost every aspect of human life by providing us with clear, objective, numerical evidence about the population, economic performance, health and wellbeing, environment and aids the decision-making process to establish numerical benchmarks, monitor and evaluate the progress of policies or programmes and ensuring that our policy interventions are well designed.”

According to the Statistician General of the Federation, previously, the country’s statistical system was less than optimal; weak, uncoordinated and largely ineffective and policy makers and other data users ignored official data.

“However, there are significant changes due to improved coordination at vertical (Federal) and horizontal (State) levels; increasing recognition of the importance of statistics and resurgence in the demand for data,” he stated.

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