Future of Work
There is something quite Zuma-esque about watching Cyril Rhamaphosa bumbling through the key note address at the Future of Work Conference, reading a speech clearly not written or properly rehearsed by him. Mr President, a word of advice, if you don't understand a topic and you are invited to open a conference, arrive on time, wave to the crowds, shake hands, kiss a few babies, give a short warm feeling address and sit down to enjoy the sumptuous lunch that has been laid on at tax payers expense. Leave talking about 4ID to the revolutionaries.
Africa does not have the opportunity of the social dividend, it is the greatest challenge facing us;
If you are not already in the 4ID, you have probably missed it or are certainly playing catch up;
The 4ID is not going to create jobs. It can create wealth, employment is not a direct spin-off;
Education is not a silver bullet.
Mr. President, you need to correct your speech writer. A social dividend is the return on capital assets that are owned by society in a socialist economy. Your writer tosses and you bumble this copious reference in your speech yet not once do you address the issue of how we are going to build capital on a continent that has little respect for the ownership of capital. Our continental demographics are dramatically skewed towards the young. Without a plan to build capital, there will be no social dividend. Our strategies must be on how to correct our demographics imbalance and how to introduce labor-intensive projects. We have land aplenty – use it.
The 4ID is not something that is coming, it is already here. You cannot prepare for it, it is standing at the bottom of the bed and it is holding a gun. The fastest way into the 4ID is through open source. Turn all government IT spending entirely onto open source projects, where our developers and integrators can take control of the IP. Make us producers not consumers of technology. Do this by example. Do it now.
There is not an under employment of youth in Africa. Proportionally there are as many youths employed in Africa as there are in the rest of the world (relative to capital). Our problem is that the number of youth exceeds the institutions and the middle managers required to employ them. 4ID threatens to make this worse not better. I can offer you an example of my own products, TurbCASH Accounting. We are 4ID. Our UK and US competitors employ around 5,000 staff to manage 5 Million users, or 1 employee for every 1000 users. With TurboCASH, we employ 1 employee per 10,000 users. We may create huge value that way, but we do not directly employ workers. There will be similar stories all over the tech industry.
It is a dark future, but understanding the threat is far better than believing a fantasy because it is simply what you want to believe. Focusing on education instead of on building capital, may not create less unemployment but may well create a future of educated unemployment.