Wednesday, June 13, 2007

‘ICT’ll create more jobs’

The long held fears that deeper penetration of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in Africa would lead to massive job losses has been dispelled by preliminary results from an ongoing study, reports John Mireny.

The research undertaking is being coordinated by the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and seeks to measure the impact of ICTs in poverty alleviation and job creation in Africa.

ICTs refer to the combined use of new emerging electronic technologies—computers and Internet, mobile phones, radios, TVs, multi-media platforms like CDs.

The early study’s results were announced by Eskedar Nega, ECA’s programme officer at a gathering of Africa Global Knowledge Partnership (GKP) Africa preparatory meeting here in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.

She contended that, evidently, the initial results, supported by indicators that are showcased by Africa’s emerging mobile telephony industry, new jobs have been created where telecoms have been liberalised, as the case can be overwhelmingly proved in Tanzania.

However, she sounded a warning that the reverse could be unfolding where technology becomes obsolete, or due to excessive automation, as when ICTs replaces old tasks and occupations, for instance when telephone switchboard operators are sent parking.

With reference to the study, she said, ICTs could create new tasks and occupations through Webpage designers, call centre worker or a variety of new intermediaries.

But, most likely, she said, the preliminary results from their ongoing results showed that outsourcing, community multi-purpose centres (CMCs) that uses post office as outlets and combining several technologies (radio, GSM, Internet, TV and multi-media) could create thousands of jobs, as well as market driven e-agriculture and software development.

Africa, just like India, has the potential to tap synergies brought about by outsourcing, she said.

The study showcases Egypt as an exemplary African country where e-Agriculture has shown its potential to create new and decent jobs.

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