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Labor and Social Protection

Will automation kill South African jobs? No, say new studies

Marek Hanusch's picture
South Africa: in need of speeding-up economic productivity with more innovation. Photo: Credit: Arne Hoel/World Bank


The 4th Industrial Revolution is here: driverless cars, 3-D printing, and Artificial Intelligence are the future. These innovations deliver the promise of better and more convenient lives to many. But they also disrupt the way in which we used to do things, including the way we work.

Can South Africa tap into its innovation potential to improve the lives of its citizens?

Gabriel Goddard's picture



Some people think innovation is only about gadgets, high-tech industries, and laboratories. But this is only the tip of the iceberg! The truth is that there are many types of innovation that can have a transformational impact on everyday people’s lives.

Dividende démographique en Afrique : quelles retombées pour la croissance et la réduction de la pauvreté ?

S. Amer Ahmed's picture
Also available in: English
Total dependency ratio, 1950-2030
Taux de dépendance total, 1950-2030 *


Entre 1950 et 2014, la population africaine a progressé à un rythme annuel de 2,6 %, soit nettement plus vite que la moyenne mondiale, estimée à 1,7 % selon des données de projection des Nations Unies (a). Durant cette période, l’Afrique a connu une transition démographique : le taux de mortalité, auparavant très élevé, a reculé, tandis que le taux de fécondité, lui, est resté élevé. D’autres régions du monde, et surtout l’Asie de l’Est, ont su profiter de leur transition pour accélérer leur croissance et tirer parti du fameux « dividende démographique ». Au tour de l’Afrique de saisir cette opportunité !

How significant could Africa’s demographic dividend be for growth and poverty reduction?

S. Amer Ahmed's picture
Also available in: Français
Total dependency ratio, 1950-2030
Total dependency ratio, 1950-2030 *


Africa’s population grew at an average annual rate of 2.6 percent between 1950 and 2014, much faster than the global average of 1.7 percent as estimated from UN population projection data. During this time, the region experienced a demographic transition, moving from a period of high mortality and fertility rates to one of lower mortality, yet still high fertility rates. Other regions, most notably East Asia, took advantage of their transitions to accelerate growth, and reap a so-called ‘demographic dividend’. Africa is now being presented a similar opportunity.

Across the universe of firms in Tanzania

Isis Gaddis's picture

Let's think together: Every Sunday the World Bank in Tanzania in collaboration with The Citizen wants to stimulate your thinking by sharing data from recent official surveys in Tanzania and ask you a few questions.
In industrial countries, small and medium firms are the vectors of economic innovation and job creation. In the USA, small-businesses account for almost two-thirds of all net new job creation. They also contribute disproportionately to innovation, generating 13 times as many patents, per employee, as large companies do. Small business owners are also in general more educated and wealthier than the rest of the active population.
The reality is different in Tanzania. The vast majority of firms are very small and predominantly confined to self-employment. They are also highly concentrated in agriculture and trading activities:

- In 2010/11, there were approximately 11 million family-owned businesses operating in Tanzania, including farms. This is equivalent to a rate of entrepreneurship of 40 percent, which is about the rate reported in Uganda and Ghana, but three and 10 times higher, respectively, than in the United States and France.
- Half of the firms operating in Tanzania have only one employee, typically the owner; while an additional 40 percent report less than five employees. Firms with more than 10 workers represent only 0.6 per cent of the firms’ universe (still almost 70,000).

Youth in Tanzania: a growing uneducated labor force

Jacques Morisset's picture

Let's think together: Every Sunday the World Bank in Tanzania in collaboration with The Citizen wants to stimulate your thinking by sharing data from recent official surveys in Tanzania and ask you a few questions.

"The youth of today are the leaders of tomorrow", so the old adage goes. All countries, including Tanzania, need to invest in and build a strong, healthy, well educated, dynamic and innovative youth.  In Africa, the number of youths (aged 14 to 25 years) have grown significantly  over the past decades, contributing to the bulk of the labor force.

Is Rwanda Set to Reap the Demographic Dividend?

Tom Bundervoet's picture

From almost every point of view, Rwanda’s performance over the past decade has been an unambiguous success story.

Between 2001 and 2011, Rwanda’s economy grew by 8.2 percent per annum, earning the country a spot on the list of the ten fastest growing countries in the world. Poverty rates fell by 14 percentage points, effectively lifting more than one million Rwandans out of poverty. Social indicators followed the general trend: Net enrolment in primary school increased to almost 100 percent, completion rates tripled, and child mortality decreased more than threefold, hitting the mark oftwo-thirds reduction as targeted by the Millennium Development Goals.

Yet buried under all this good news lays another maybe even more important evolution.  After a decade-and-a-half stall, total fertility rates in Rwanda dropped from 6.1 in 2005 to 4.6 in 2010. This means that during a period of five years, the average number of children a woman of childbearing age can expect to have, has declined by 1.5.

Is Tanzania Raising Enough Tax Revenue?

Isis Gaddis's picture

Let's think together: Every Sunday the World Bank in Tanzania in collaboration with The Citizen wants to stimulate your thinking by sharing data from recent official surveys in Tanzania and ask you a few questions.

The overall tax burden in a country is largely determined by the role that citizens expect the State to play in the economy.  People are paying more taxes in France than in the US, not because the French are richer but because they expect more public services from their government.  For this reason, no single 'optimal' tax burden can be applied uniformly.Tanzania’s tax revenues by the central government were equivalent to 15.7 per cent of GDP in 2011/12.  This was higher than Uganda (12 per cent) but lower than Zambia (16.5 per cent) and Kenya (19.5 per cent).

Old and vulnerable: The status of Tanzania’s elders

Jacques Morisset's picture

Let's think together: Every Sunday the World Bank in Tanzania in collaboration with The Citizen  wants to stimulate your thinking by sharing data from recent official surveys in Tanzania and ask you a few questions.

Growing old is almost a universal dream. Over the past two centuries, life expectancy in Western Europe increased from 32 (in 1800) to over 80 years in 2011. This unprecedented leap in human history came as the combination of technological advances in medicine, improved living conditions, and better nutrition, among other factors. However, old age is also often accompanied with a general deterioration in physical capacities, proneness to disease and sickness, and the inability to engage in economic activity. This heightens the risk of poverty and insecurity thereby requiring societies to find mechanisms to support their elderly population.

We want jobs, jobs, jobs

Isis Gaddis's picture

Let's think together: Every week the World Bank team in Tanzania wants to stimulate your thinking by sharing data from recent official surveys in Tanzania and ask you a couple of questions. This post is also published in the Tanzanian Newspaper The Citizen every Sunday.

Jobs are at the very heart of living. Families escape poverty when their members secure gainful employment, and societies flourish when labor markets offer a wide range of job opportunities to citizens. And there is more to jobs than just monetary benefits. Not having a job or working under unfavorable conditions is often associated with low individual life satisfaction. Youth unemployment, in particular, can undermine the foundations of social cohesion, especially in fragile countries with a legacy of civil unrest and conflict.

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