Urging Africans to embrace technology, President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Akinwumi Adesina, alongside other experts has revealed that the continent could gain USD 300 Bn in GDP by 2025 from coding, including all other ways in which people can harness the full potential of the internet.
According to Adesina and company, with 70 percent of all jobs projected to have an ICT component by 2020, it is critical for governments to immediately shift from pumping funds into the jobs of the past and focus more on the jobs of the future. Citing that the future is just around the corner, Adesina emphasized the need for coding to be practiced at all levels, in all sectors of Africa’s economy.
Coding – The Future Currency
One of the highlights of Adesina’s address per a debate titled: The New Tech Era: Job Killer or Job Creator – which was engineered by Africa Report and Jeune Afrique as part of the 2019 Mo Ibrahim Governance Week – was the position that: “The currency of the future is going to be coding. We must democratize technology, and information technology must not be the exclusive privilege of the elite”.
Acknowledging the essential role played by Africa’s tech industry in economic transformation via the continent’s digitization, the panelists present at the conclave further advocated for the urgent need to upgrade the skills of the past, doing so fast enough to move away from the social fear of technology.
There are existing initiatives in place that aid the practice and adoption of coding in the continent. The most prominent of them is the NYC-based million-dollar firm Andela, which aims to tap into the vast pool of talent found in countries that are yet to be called technology hubs. Paying Africans to learn coding, Andela recognizes that brilliance is a relatively evenly distributed gift across the human population.
“We know that brilliance is relatively evenly distributed across the human population,” says Andela co-founder Jeremy Johnson. “In terms of pure aptitude, there are genius level people across the world. But what there’s not is equal opportunity.”
Tech Adoption; African Transformation
The panelists also said that the opportunities via which technology could transform Africa are quite numerous. They highlighted the crucial need for drones to monitor crops, how Artificial Intelligence can speed up varietal selection, the way the Internet of Things can control smart irrigation systems, as well as how blockchain can aid the traceability of food, all of which are prospects in Africa’s agricultural sector.
Well, Adesina and these experts are not just blowing horns into space. June last year, the African Development Bank launched a code-based employment initiative in a move to unleash the next contemporaries of digital innovators. Partnering with the Rockefeller Foundation, Microsoft and Facebook, the Coding For Employment Program was launched at the African Innovation Summit in Kigali, Rwanda. By equipping young Africans with knowledge and skills in demand-driven ICT curriculum and matching the graduates directly with tech employers, the program is already preparing African youths for future jobs and unleashing the digital potential of the continent.
While Coding For Employment was reported to have the wherewithal to create 9 million jobs and reach 32 million youths and women across the continent, Adesina said recently in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, that: “We must grab the opportunities…We must democratize technology. Africa should prepare itself. Digital technologies, including Artificial intelligence, big data analytics, blockchains, 3D printing, are already upon us,”
While the AfDB has created 130 coding centers in Africa, training 234,000 new coders, the group has also invested EURO 70 Mn (USD 78,858,500) in a Senegalese tech park to create a regional cluster of innovative ventures in francophone Africa, potentially creating 35,000 direct and 105,000 indirect jobs in the West African country.
Featured Image: Andela