I have been talking quite a bit about the Fourth Industrial Revolution of automation, digitization and biological innovations and how it comes with new challenges and opportunities. Clearly there are now new developments in genetics, robotics, artificial intelligence, biotechnology and global partnerships to create significant disruptions in the nature of work. And by work I mean productive human activities that create goods and services and their benefits in what economists call economic value.
Already, in Nigeria the work environment is gradually changing as we seeing the rise of Fintech companies competing with traditional banks with their savings platforms, payment systems and other innovations. Remember when people had line up at what was called NEPA or even at back windows or tellers to pay their light bill. Now many customers pay to their electric bills using one fintech or the other.
As has been widely reported, a recent study by Mckinsey Global Institute showed that one-fifth of the global work force will be affected in such a manner that if your job is monotonous you will be replaced by automation. So in this age your job skills must be rich, scalable and updatable. I believe that small scale businesses in Nigeria may be the ones to come to the rescue in their ability to be nimble and able to turn on a dime. These businesses should be promoted by their local governments to acquire not only the physical skills but also the technical know how and ability to develop enduring global partnerships. At end of the day much collaboration must exist between government, businesses and academia for Nigeria to truly ready for the so called future of work.
How does Nigeria square up against the competition in Africa and across the world in a digital and automated global economy? A digital economy requires adequate electricity and data services. But without good computer literacy and soft skills the benefits are minimal. So to sum it up, we need to top it all up with much human capital development.