Opinions & Features February 28, 2019 at 05:22 pm

New technology for the future of Africa

Olalekan Moyosore Lalude February 28, 2019 at 05:22 pm

February 28, 2019 at 05:22 pm | Opinions & Features

Photo Credit: The Lazy Artist Gallery

The human race is at the near peak of a civilizational shift, and it has come at odds with itself. One would think of technology as the mechanism of a society’s efficiency; a mark of its sophistication in work and in its chosen way of existence. For every phase of human development, there are points where evolution becomes necessary. New technology for the future of Africa has become necessary.

Also, the expressive imprint of every society is its technology, in that it decides the success of such a society. From ancient Egypt to modern America, from ancient Alexandria to modern Silicon Valley, the defining moment of a civilization is the point of technological evolution. Hence the wealth of the world today is built on the back of a tectonic shift in the efficiency and sophistication of contemporary technology and the quick points of its evolution.

Technology like everything fashioned by man for his own survival and productivity is neither good nor bad, but is defined in such ethical terms by its use.

It is quite apparent the intent of the new philosophy of work in a new world, to be faster and efficient, especially since the aim of corporate endeavors is to beat the opposition in productivity. The advantages of new technology in any economy is not to be underestimated, as it has tremendous capabilities to revolutionize and sophisticate such an economy.

The resilience of America’s economy today is the buffer that new technology brings to the frontier of economic growth. That exclusivity of great productivity and enhancement of human existence is the function of evolving technologies. New and efficient technology inspires investment and excites quick returns.

However, the fine points, the sight of a critical imbalance between the technological demands on skills and availability, is a source of concern for policymakers in these times. In the world’s most sophisticated economy, which is the United States, there is an ever-widening skills gap between industry and the labor force, and it looks like it is going to get worse.

Businesses, even the small ones have resorted to new technology to cope with fierce competition in the age of an entrepreneurial surge. The Hill reports that “About 108 million workers hold jobs that require moderate or high digital knowledge, according to a Brookings Institution report published in December 2017, and jobs are increasingly likely to require higher levels of technical knowledge.” Despite the capacity for humans to evolve, humans rarely love to change.

From the estimation of the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the United States, the US economy will require about 100,000 new information technology workers every year, spanning the next ten years; just about 60,000 of these are entering the labor force every year.

It is even more frightening for Africa, a continent heavily reliant on commodities for economic growth, and one of the region’s super economies, Nigeria, is still a resource bonanza monolith driven to the edge by wide margins in income distribution. There is a high demand in Nigeria for new technology for the security and enhancement of business transactions, which of course is a particularly prominent demand for economic growth but there is a serious skill gap in the need to drive and manage technological innovation.

Technology is important, but its use is more important. There are certain ethical issues that new technology is going to face in a future time, and it would revolve around the demands that corporate bodies would place on new technology for the future of Africa. There is a prediction that the way creative destruction swept through the mobile technology world, is the way it is going to revolutionize automobile manufacturing. And in effect, there are new demands on energy and mining for resources that would support the new technology.

In the rush to hold a leverage on the price mechanism for high quality products and lower costs on production, tech companies could outsource to companies that use artisanal labor in high risk environment.

For instance, there is a higher demand now for cobalt, which is used in the manufacture of batteries for electronic gadgets and electric cars. According to Bloomberg, there was a bad publicity for Apple Inc. and Microsoft Corporation when in 2016, Amnesty International reported that children were being sent down some Congolese mines to dig for cobalt for their gadgets.

In as much as action was taken, soon enough, like for some other needed commodities, cobalt would have a black market that trades the risk of exposing children to a hazardous environment, and yet, tech companies would surreptitiously deal in it, as the preoccupation of corporate bodies aren’t ethical issues, but with profit and market dominance.

In some future to come, following the logic of extant practices, there are possibilities of a new kind of work arrangement, and there are the symptoms, that technology, as it has surpassed humans in adaptation to new possibilities, would surpass humans in deciding how the distribution of labor is fashioned.

There will come a time when productivity will be at an all-time high in the history of the economies of the developed world, but the winners would be the corporate powers. Humans will be a part of the process, but won’t be at the center of the process. There would be a huge contrast in the success that would be created, and the capabilities of the human work force that would be available. At that time, corporate power would be unquestionable and new technology would be the weapon of tyranny on the markets and on state policies.

New technology for the future of Africa would determine what Africans do to keep up with the rest of the world. Hence it is imagined that with Africa’s serious human development issues, Africa might serve the growing demands of new technology in unacceptable conditions, and in unethical arrangements.

It is not to say that tech companies lack integrity, but inasmuch as one would agree that corruption exists in corporate practices, then it would also be safe to imagine that deals would also thrive in markets with less than dignifying practices.

This is the new form of tyranny that should be worried about; that Africa will relinquish the responsibility of how to fashion its destiny to unwholesome demands of emerging markets, in exchange for liquidity that would be mopped up by gaping needless deficits, and mismanagement.

The use of new technology shouldn’t force humans to work in high risk environments, but new technology should be adapted for high risk environments. But this even, is an ideal that battles the realism of the need of corporate powers to make profits in a continent where cheap labor is increasingly attractive in high risk environment, rather than investment on technological use in hazardous environments.

If Africa must evolve, it must step up to the developmental challenge, by sobering up, and keying effectively to the possibilities of new technology for the future of Africa


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