Adnan Adams Mohammed
Nearly US$4 billion have identified in Ghana as investing and training opportunity in digital skills by 2030.
A new report estimates that, “230 million jobs in Sub-Saharan Africa will require digital skills by 2030,” presenting investors and education operators with an estimated “US$130 billion opportunity to train the future workforce in digital skills”, according to a new report, ‘Digital Skills in Sub-Saharan Africa: Spotlight on Ghana’ released by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) in cooperation with L.E.K. Consulting.
This is an indication that, demand for digital skills in Sub-Saharan Africa is expected to grow at a faster rate than in other markets. The demand for digital skills is evolving and presents opportunities for different stakeholders to play a role, particularly the private sector. There is the crucial need for digital skills as a driver of economic growth and competitiveness across sectors in the region—from agriculture to services.
“It is clear that approaches to learning need to be reconsidered. One area that has not been fully explored, particularly in emerging markets, are the digital skills that will enable people to work and live well in an era of rapid technological change”, Sérgio Pimenta, IFC Vice President for Middle East and Africa has said.
In a recent survey on digital skills by IFC, from respondents’ feedback, it was estimated that about half of jobs on the continent require some digital skills and note that demand for these skills will rise more quickly in Africa than in other regions. This demand is driven both by rapid economic growth in Africa—home to three of the world’s top five fastest-growing economies—as well as the digitization and automation of its agriculture, manufacturing, and services sectors.
The “Fourth Industrial Revolution”, an era characterized by rapid breakthroughs in technology-related fields, is reshaping the skills that will be required for the future workforce. The study finds that digital skills are critical for the future of work, alongside “21st century” social and behavioural skills, like critical thinking and communication.
Although digital skills are perceived among the top seven skills for the future of the
global workforce, the study finds that these skills are undersupplied globally and most particularly in Africa. The study finds that supply of digitally-skilled labor in Sub-Saharan Africa and Ghana must increase to meet anticipated market needs or Africa’s economies will falter. Around 80 percent of industry participants interviewed believe that an undersupply in digital skills would hamper expected economic growth, and nearly 20 percent of Ghanaian companies surveyed recruit only internationally for digital skills, largely because they cannot find skilled local talent.
Ashwin Assomull, Partner in L.E.K.’s Global Education practice, says, “The report demonstrates innovative ways private education providers and investors to tap into the massive training opportunity over the next decade. A relentless focus on student outcomes and technology industry alignment is critical to the success of these programs.”
IFC and its partner made a call to action at the launch of the report, urging that, the private sector must play a pivotal role in addressing the challenges in digital skills. This challenge can be met through proven models with potential to scale and to offer lessons to other innovative providers willing to make inroads in the space. Digital skills must also be integrated throughout education, including at a foundational level in schools, with the public sector playing a pivotal role. Teaching digital skills is not only a business opportunity, but a chance to reconceive the future of work across the continent.