As our continent advances in the fields of technology, manufacturing, computer software and information, our economies become more digitized. Economic activities such as trade, financial systems, data and processes become more based in the digital economy. This transformation brings new opportunities to the continent, and we will need certain skills that will best optimize them. The youth of Africa needs be at the forefront of this because our generation will be one of the first to have most of its economic activities in the digital economy.
The digital economy will see a huge improvement of communication across African countries, a result of better internet connection and new online platforms connecting African consumers directly to African businesses, and increasing communication between African businesses, improving inter-continental trade. For African youth to fully benefit from this, they need to improve communication skills such as being fluent in two or more languages, particularly those of countries in the same region, to be able to communicate orally and over emails/online. This skill can be developed through schools and courses that focus on either learning new languages.
A non-traditional skill that should be developed for youth to better maximize the improvement of communication in an African digital economy is learning software development, computer literacy and web development. These skills are essential in a digital economy because web platforms will be where most economic activities will be performed, so we’ll need a youth that are able to maintain, create and operate a website. This skill can be developed by having compulsory basic computer literacy training in primary school and more advanced computer science related subjects in high school for those who chose to carry on with it.
The African digital economy will digitize more industries and decentralize industries which will result in economic development because it will be easier to set up businesses and find customers or go to an already establish online platforms and sell your services there or advertise your products. This will need Africans to develop a more traditional skill of marketing with a specific focus on marketing their products within the African continent because of how the continent has a huge market that isn’t properly supplied because international products don’t fully satisfy the African market.
The African digital economy will open new doors for Africa and its people, but African youth need to develop the skills needed to optimize this new economy.
Tlogang Otsile Ketumile Makgwanya Mosupye, a South African national, is a winner of the World Bank Africa 2019 Blog4Dev regional competition.