In days gone by, progress was measured in terms of access to roads. Today, however, the concept of development is inconceivable without digital access. In an increasingly connected world that is unrelentingly zoned in to digital technology, the countries of the South are trying to bridge the digital divide with the North. So then, what are the possible solutions for equipping young Africans with the best skills that would help them prepare for the digital economy and for the jobs of tomorrow?
Information and Communication Technologies
According to the United Nations, Africa's youth, citizens aged between 15 and 24 years old, currently stands at more than 200 million, making it the continent with the youngest population in the world. It is essential to equip this young population with the necessary skills that will allow them to be relevant in an economy that is rapidly becoming digital.
The swift rise in new technologies requires that people and businesses better anticipate the needs and challenges that our societies will face. As Africa is not immune to these challenges, the country must find ways to better equip young Africans with the necessary skills to prepare them for the digital economy and the jobs of tomorrow.
By addressing the proposed topic, the World Bank reinforces the African Union’s Agenda2063, which sets out to attain the kind of Africa we want. African youth will be at the forefront of achieving the aspirations of African people.
In this regard, young Africans need to vigorously strive to assume leadership, or take an active role in the digital economy and the future of work. That will be possible only if we develop a profile of the skills that will be determinant for the professionals or entrepreneurs of the digital area. These include: development of a personal character that inspires confidence and adoption of a strategic vision that envisions the future creatively, recognizes the need for flexibility in the face of change and in solving complex problems, and maintains a positive attitude.
Last October, I participated in End Poverty Day (EPD) from the Zambia Country Office, where I had the opportunity to exchange with a host of young brilliant minds from Zambia and around the continent. It left me full of energy and a renewed sense of hope for Africa. Since then, I have made it a point to speak to youth on every country visit, most recently meeting with young techpreneurs in Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, and Senegal. I can’t help but think to myself after every meeting, what phenomenal potential these young people represent for Africa!
- Information and Communication Technologies
- South Sudan
- South Africa
- Sierra Leone
- Sao Tome and Principe
- Gambia, The
- Equatorial Guinea
- Cote d'Ivoire
- Congo, Republic of
- Congo, Democratic Republic of
- Central African Republic
- Cabo Verde
- Burkina Faso
2000: “Genome science will … revolutionize the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of the most, if not all, human diseases.” President Bill Clinton
2003: “The convergence of nanotechnology with information technology, biology and social sciences will reinvigorate discoveries and innovation in many areas of the economy.” President George W. Bush
2013: “3D printing has the potential to revolutionize the way we make almost everything.” President Barak Obama
Do you feel different going to a doctor now compared to 2000? Do you know of any new discoveries resulting from the convergence of nanotechnology and the social sciences? Have you used anything produced by 3D printers? We answer “no” to these questions; most readers of this blog probably would as well.
When it comes to improving portfolio performance, the Maghreb Country Management Unit (CMU) has found a solution that worked well: Partnering with the Government counterparts to form a strong Implementation Support Team (IST).
In early March 2019, the World Bank hosted eight Government representatives from various ministries and institutions (including the Central Bank) from Algeria, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia. These representatives form what the Maghreb CMU has called "the ISTs". They had a busy week of training on World Bank operations from Strategy to results on the ground and the Independent Evaluation Group (IEG) evaluations. They even participated in the Quarterly MNA-Global Practices portfolio review to see first-hand how the region and the Global Practices partner together for better portfolio performance and were determined to replicate the approach with their sector ministries. These ISTs played a major role in improving the Maghreb portfolio performance and boosting its disbursement ratios and therefore are playing a major role in expediting results on the ground to the beneficiaries.
Technology is changing our world faster than ever before.
And Pakistan, home to more than 64 million internet users and 62 million people connected to mobile data, is no exception.
As they’ve become more digital-savvy, Pakistanis are now expecting better digital services from their government.
As part of the government’s governance reforms, and learning from earlier pilot programs in education and health, the Punjab Public Management Reform Program (PPMRP) has aimed to transform citizens’ experience, improve access to administrative services, and boost public employee performance and the management of public resources.
Before that, Punjab authorities were facing several challenges in delivering public services. This, in turn, impacted social outcomes in the province: the health sector’ performance was affected by the absenteeism of vaccinators, resulting in a low immunization rate in Punjab (49% in 2014).
The education and agriculture departments faced similar absenteeism issues with teachers, students, and agriculture workers in the field.
Overall, citizens were dissatisfied with these public services.
These early efforts later morphed into an even closer partnership that aims to foster hundreds of digital jobs for youth and kickstart infrastructure projects to attract technology investments across the province.
One outcome of this partnership is the successful KP Government Innovation Fellowship Program which is co-sponsored by Code for Pakistan.
Since 2014, . Twenty fellows divided into five teams join each cycle of the program.
Based on their host agency’s needs, each group may bring expertise in web or mobile app development, graphic design, content, user experience, or networks.
Next, they propose solutions and develop prototypes, which they then test and deploy in the final two months.
During their tenure, fellows actively collaborate and train government staff to ensure their solutions are properly used and sustained.
To date, four fellowship cycles have produced 70 graduates, who earned great experience within the government.
Is new technology “transformative” or “disruptive”? I’ve heard this topic hotly debated at meetings both within the World Bank and more broadly. The issue is not just linguistic hair-splitting. Technology optimists prefer the first term and see new technologies, digitization in particular, as an opportunity for low-income developing countries to leapfrog into the 21st century. Moonshot Africa, an ambitious World Bank initiative to connect individuals, firms, and governments in Africa to fast internet is inspired by this vision. Technology pessimists on the other hand emphasize the disruptive effects digital technologies are expected to have on labor markets. Concerns about robots and algorithms replacing human labor increasingly dominate the public debate not only in advanced economies, but also in emerging and developing economies. Against this background, it is natural to ask how these two views are compatible. To be more specific: How will Moonshot Africa create jobs on a continent where job creation is needed more than anywhere else in the world with Africa’s working-age population projected to rise by 70% in the next twenty years?