Digital transformation will fast-track Africa’s economic growth and prosperity if harnessed appropriately. Today’s headlines concerning new technologies are as attention-grabbing as they are contradictory, with the only clear conclusion being that no one really knows with absolute certainty where these changes will ultimately lead us.
The fact remains that the impact of the current digital revolution will very much depend on how we as enterprises, government, civil society and ordinary citizens choose to use it and harness it.
Investment in digital skills development
Local digital transformation company, Deviare, believes that the 4IR impact on Africa will be deeply intertwined with the ability of its private sector to invest wisely in future capability and capacity.
“Our plan is to invest heavily at grassroots level, educating the future generation of Africa in specialised digital skills and helping them hold their own in this globally competitive world,” says Deviare Co-Founder and Executive Director, Lubabalo Dyantyi. Moreover, while the inevitable digital disruption is unfolding, Africa will also be experiencing unprecedented demographic changes, according to the World Economic Forum.
By 2030, Africa will be home to a quarter of the world’s population under 25, resulting in a considerable workforce that the continent can leverage to drive economic inclusion and prosperity.
“The future of Africa’s social stability and economic growth will be inextricably linked to what becomes of its youth. As the youth becomes the core of the fourth industrial revolution, the African continent has a huge opportunity to develop these in-demand skills at scale and take advantage of the global future economy,” says Dyantyi.
The future of jobs
A lot can be said about the skills required for the fourth industrial revolution and the urgent need to upskill and reskill workers across industries. Increasing automation will undoubtedly shift the skill profiles of the jobs of tomorrow.
The latest World Economic Forum “Future of Jobs” Report predicts that by 2025, automation will displace 85 million jobs and create 97 million new jobs. The most in-demand roles in future job markets, listed in the report, include AI and machine learning specialists, data analysts and scientists, software and application developers, robotics engineers as well as digital transformation specialists.
Other future jobs include information security analysts and internet of things specialists, with product marketing, digital marketing and software development life cycle among the core set of specialised skills required for emerging professions. Moreover, the report showed an emphasis on applicable skills over traditional qualifications, with a business culture of growth and continuous learning fast becoming a standard to developing a sustainable skills pipeline in the workplace.
For Deviare, digital transformation is a means to enable African countries to overcome systemic poverty and underdevelopment in order to advance towards a sustainable, digital future for all.
A change of mindset
To secure such a pipeline in Africa the private sector needs to be bolder when investing in future skills programmes. Skills levies, economic and supplier development investments must be directed towards the future capability needs of key sectors. There has to be a mindset change, from spend to investment, and this needs to be linked with the future needs of not only the company, but the greater societal and economic sector.
In the context of the digital economy, we have barely scraped the surface in terms of scope of opportunity. A new digital skills ecosystem is not just a reserve pool for today’s skills and jobs but a springboard for future jobs, ideas and solutions. As an innovative digital company, Deviare is experiencing the rapid scale and impact of investing in modern digital skills such as Data Science, AI, DevOps and Cloud.
Deviare co-founder and technologist Baxolile Mabinya believes that a contextually adaptive approach to digital skills development is vital to the future of African enterprise. “We need to think about solving societal problems and building industries as part of the learning process. This is why our platform integrates recruitment, learning, project work, workplace experience and apprenticeships in a way that is applicable to the context where the skills will be applied,” explains Mabinya.
“Deviare’s platform will continue to evolve with the requirements of the African context. An API driven approach provides the opportunity to integrate with local and global partners in order to enrich the experience of our clients.” Deviare has also extended access to these modern skills to semi-rural areas of South Africa by building mobile digital labs fully equipped with devices and Internet connectivity. These are completely powered by solar energy and can be operational in the most remote parts of the African continent. “We have the opportunity to completely alter economic and skills migration patterns by building modern skills in parts of our continent that have, to date, been left out of any meaningful and sustainable development.”
Strategic skills development partnership with Microsoft
Deviare and Microsoft are tackling the digital skills deficit and growing unemployment rate among youth in South Africa. In the past eight months about 800 unemployed young South Africans have been trained in cloud computing, data science, ai, software development and cyber security.
The programmes have rapidly evolved and now incorporate a virtual global apprenticeship, offering candidates valuable work experience as part of their skills training. Work readiness workshops and career guidance are also offered to candidates on completion of their training.
In collaboration with Microsoft, Deviare aims to continue providing quality digital learning to unemployed South African youth, irrespective of location, thus eliminating the issue of lack of infrastructure, and lowering the barriers to entry for young people in underdeveloped and remote areas of the country.
For Deviare, digital transformation is a means to enable African countries to overcome systemic poverty and underdevelopment in order to advance towards a sustainable, digital future for all. The company is confident that more can be done with Corporate Africa using an integrated and scalable approach. “All stakeholders bring unique elements to the Deviare virtual ecosystem, which drive positive network effects. Deviare will continue to leverage technology in order to place people at the centre of a rich and sustainable continuous learning experience,” concludes Mabinya.