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November 8th, 2019

Around the world, and especially in Africa, rapid digitization and the spread of new technologies are ushering in a new era of economic disruption. This trend has ignited a global debate about the implications for labor markets and the future of work. So far, the future of work discussion has focused mainly on advanced economies and on industrial jobs, which raises questions about its relevance for low-income countries in general and Africa in particular.

Experts come down on both sides of whether technology in Africa will be good for jobs. Critics are concerned that automation is displacing low-skilled industrial jobs, meaning Africa’s manufacturing sector might not be able to absorb workers as Asia’s did.  On the other hand, other experts argue that technological disruptions have been a feature of economic transformation since the first industrial revolution. Similar dire predictions of large-scale job destruction made during previous episodes of technological revolution failed to materialize. Finally, by replacing low-skill manual jobs while acting as a complement to high-skilled workers, modern technologies raise skill premiums, but also increase income inequality. Read more …