The swift technological innovations of the Fourth Industrial Revolution is raising the standards of living of people all over the world. Robots are massively displacing human workers leading to a jobless future where only a few benefit from the fruits of robotic innovation. Mitigation efforts to cushion the adverse effects of climate change, including food shortages and mass migration, which would place extra pressure on urban labor markets are being calibrated. Countries have continued to integrate commercially and financially in order to foster growth and employment. This is despite uncertainties over trade wars in a world increasingly fragmented and inward-looking.
Sub-Saharan Africa, which is witnessing these unpredictabilities, is contending with a dramatic increase in population and a phenomenal expansion in the labor force, as it is exacerbating the complexities of urbanization. The population of Sub-Saharan Africa is surging and is projected to rise to around 1.7 billion by 2040. The working-age population in the region will, by modest estimate, experience a net increase of 20 million per year in the next 20 years. Simultaneously, migration toward cities is fast-paced, causing a rise in the need for urban jobs. The region is facing an onerous task of adding about 20 million jobs annually to meet up with the pressure of such a geometrical population explosion.
The daunting task is not only a question of the number of new jobs, but also of their relevance and quality. Recently, job creation in sub-Saharan Africa has measured up with population growth. Since 2000, sub-Saharan Africa has managed to add an average of 9 million jobs per year, leading to a marginal increase in the employment-to-population ratio. Nevertheless, most of the new jobs were created in sectors with small and inconsequential productivity levels, such as agricultural activities meant to sustain family members only and low value-added services. Self-employment has remained the mainstay of the region’s economy.
The challenges and opportunities of the Fourth Industrial Revolution for sub-Saharan Africa are enormous. The region is seeking to create jobs for its teeming population and combat the negative effects of climate change and interface with an external environment that may be less inclined to be supportive.