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A perfect storm in South Africa


A perfect storm is brewing in South Africa on the economic front. A storm made up of a mismanaged power supply, rampant corruption and the impact of technology on jobs. This is going to require bold leadership, both from a government and business alike.

Lets take a look at just the impact of technology on the current workforce. The figures from 2018 indicate that approximately 10 million people of a population of 57 million are currently employed. In a 2018 report on South Africa, Accenture estimated that 35% of all jobs in South Africa are currently at high risk of total automation, that is 3.5 million jobs. An example of how this will play out came into focus this week when Standard Bank announced that they were closing 91 branches as they moved to digital banking. A move they have to make in order to remain competitive and relevant. The jobs impacted by just this move was estimated to be in the region of 1,200. If everything stays as is and no effort is made to urgently address the need to re-skill or up-skill the current workforce then the number of employed individuals will drop to 7 million. Why this should be of massive concern is that in the South African context it is estimated that every employed individual on average supports 3 people. A loss of 3 million jobs x 3 dependents is a real impact on 9 million people! This impact cannot be and should not be underestimated given the current rate of unemployment which is at 27%! Here is an important conversation on the impact of technology in developing countries and what strategies need to be put in place in order to negate any negative impacts. We have to urgently focus on skills!