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The Future of Work in Africa: The Roles of Skills, Informality, and Social Protection in Unleashing the Promise of Digital Technologies for All

WASHINGTON, July 25, 2019 - As developing countries brace for technological advances and other disruptions arising from climate shocks, fragility, economic integration and population transitions that will fundamentally transform the work landscape, a new World Bank report notes that Sub-Saharan African countries may benefit from digital technology adoption in different ways than other regions.

The Future of Work in Africa: Harnessing the Potential of Digital Technologies for All, a regional companion piece to the World Bank's World Development Report 2019: The Changing Nature of Work, says the region has an opportunity to forge a different path from the rest of the world - if digital technologies are harnessed correctly by governments and businesses by ensuring that critical policies and investments are in place.

"Because most African countries face different development challenges such as lower levels of productive technology adoption and more under-employed people than other regions, an increase in digital technology adoption has the potential to have a positive effect on economies," said Mark Dutz World Bank Lead Economist and one of the report authors. "If widely adopted, digital technologies hold the promise of helping firms grow, and most importantly, create more jobs for everyone, not just a privileged few. But it won't happen unless governments put in place an appropriate business environment."

The report cites a recent study showing that faster internet speeds in African countries increased the employment rate not only for university graduates, but for those workers who had a secondary or even only a primary level of education.

But while there is innovation and growth potential, the report warns that the success of digital and related technology adoption depends on having the right supportive policies in place. Governments need to ensure sufficient market competition, better entrepreneurial and worker human capital, and better physical infrastructure, according to the report, as well as stronger capacities to increase public investments in social protection.

"The region's underlying conditions, such as a large informal sector and persistently low levels of human capital, do not need to be a disadvantage" said Jieun Choi, World Bank Senior Economist and a report author. "Because Africa has a smaller manufacturing base, automation is not likely to displace many workers over the next years. At the same time, digital technology adoption can help businesses reduce their costs and prices, enabling them to expand their production and employment across all sectors, while access to internet and mobile apps can help low-skilled workers to learn better farming practices or sell more effectively in markets."

To take advantage of these opportunities, the report offers several fundamental public policy recommendations for governments to consider, including:

- Ensure that digital infrastructure is available and affordable to all-in rural and urban areas, and across all demographics-by developing digital infrastructure regulation that spurs competition, supports universal access, and promotes integration across countries to create bigger markets

- Provide complementary physical infrastructure such as reliable electricity

- Support the inventors and entrepreneurs that are needed to develop tools both for upskilling the stock of low-skilled workers in their current occupations and for the new tasks that the adoption of new technologies will enable

- Develop interventions to facilitate the productivity upgrading of informal farms and firms and to upgrade the skills of their workers

- Expand the coverage of social protection and labor systems, especially to workers, to spur greater entrepreneurial and worker risk-taking, and to facilitate worker transitions between jobs

"We know that it won't be easy to establish the necessary foundations needed to capitalize on Africa's digital and broader economic transformation, but it can be done," said report author Zainab Usman, World Bank Social Development Specialist. "With government policy makers and business investments supporting the needed changes, the next generation of African workers, inventors and entrepreneurs have the potential to innovate and thrive."

Source: https://www.worldbank.org/en/region/afr/publication/africa-future-of-work

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Getting Your Goals Aligned

Out of the 7 wastes of lean founded by Taiichi Ohno, OVERPRODUCTION was termed as the mother of all wastes. The reason for this is not far fetched, every item produced above the customer's order is usually not paid for, it hits hard on the gross profit the moment you create it. Other wastes by Mr. Ohno's are: Transportation, Invetory, Motion, Waiting, Over processing and Defect - TIMWOOD for short.

In real business terms here in our part of the world, it is my observation that businesses suffer from a worse problem which I coined "misjective" - , the lack of proper understanding of the objective or problem to be solved. This condition usually displays itself in form of misalignment of the organisational objectives and the execution strategy; this problem in my opinion is the root of many other problems organisations face - it is the real mother of all internal business problems in sub Sahara Africa.

For excellent achievement of organisational goals, every moving part of the body has to be in alignment with it. As the wheels, tyres and chassis of a car have to be in good sync, so are the various parts of an organisation, they have to be in excellent alignment with goals and objective of the organisation all the time. The following list shows some of the areas that are usually difficult to align to the main corporate objectives going by my observations over several years. The list is not limited to the ones below but I have focused on the common ones.

My write up is to bring this issue to the knowledge of the reader so as to create awareness towards better management especially when faced with designing the execution strategy and making decision that might make or mar your business.

1.HR Strategy & Recruitment (every recruitment) - Proper assessment of the business pressures premised on the objectives of the organisation should form the primary basis for developing a sound HRMS for the organisation (google Sparrow & Pettigrew HRMS framework)

2. Organisational Structure - Responsibilities should be created with the end in mind. Who is placed where, and what they do should be dictated by what is required to achieve the corporate objective.

3. Performance Management - What is being measured should be clearly defined by the corporate goal. Do not measure theoretical metrics but factors that help in providing a clear view of how well the organisation is inching closer to its goal - put it on a dash board.

4. The Management of Risk - Assign higher weights to risk factors that directly affect the goal of the company and not the theoretical principles of risk -bring it home, make the principles your own! Similarly, are the risk factors being tracked the right ones?

5. Training (also linked to 1) - In designing and executing the training strategy, subjects, staff trainee, trainer and other related factors should only address actual gaps between the existing or available skill-set and required skill-set to attain the corporate and tactical objectives. Training and recruitment should also address the future challenges the business would face so that when those challenging time come, the business is better equipped to tackle them.

6. Reward and punishment - What the organisation is reinforcing should be directly linked to the strategic objective of the organisation. Reward the behaviour that would help in achieving the objective and punish the one that pushes the organisation farther away from its achievement.

7. Business Strategy - It is best developed in alignment with the goal in mind. Add nothing!

8. Process Controls - Process audit and any form of quality control should facilitate the achievement of the corporate objective. They are much more effective and helpful if properly scaled with a bias towards the goal of the company.

9. Technology

What is your perspective? do you have insights to share on this topic? Kindly do so in the comment box below:

Titus Osikoya
Complexities Manager

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The many ways volunteering is good for your heart

If you do volunteer work, whether it's at a school, soup kitchen, or senior center, perhaps you've experienced the emotional rewards of donating your time. What you might not realize, however, is that volunteering may offer some added advantages for your heart.

There's a growing body of research showing that volunteering is associated with better physical and mental health outcomes, says Eric S. Kim, a research fellow at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. A study he co-authored, published in Social Science and Medicine earlier this year, found that volunteers were more likely to use preventive health care services. For instance, people who volunteered were 47% more likely to get cholesterol checks and 30% more likely to get flu shots than those who didn't volunteer. (An annual flu shot appears to lower the risk of heart attack and stroke by about one-third over the following year.) Measurable gains

The participants were part of the Health and Retirement Study, a nationally representative study launched in 1992 that includes more than 7,100 adults over age 50. Earlier research from the same study found that people who volunteered on a regular basis (at least 200 hours a year) were less likely to develop high blood pressure over a four-year period than non-volunteers. Volunteers also had greater increases in psychological well-being and physical activity.

Another large, ongoing study of volunteerism, Baltimore Experience Corp Study, has also documented physical, social, and cognitive improvements in volunteers. Begun in 1995 and now operating in multiple cities across the United States, Experience Corps pairs adults ages 50 or older with public school students who struggle with reading. Earlier studies have found that, compared with a control group, Experience Corps volunteers tend to walk more steps, be less depressed, find it easier to do everyday tasks, and have better thinking skills.

Why connection matters
The well-known advantages of greater social connectivity likely play a large role, says Kim. For example, when you're more connected to your community, it's easier to get information on things like how to find the best deals on fresh vegetables, or where to get a free flu shot. People also provide one another emotional support.

Another intriguing potential benefit is that volunteering may give people a greater sense of purpose in life. There are three elements to a sense of purpose: a sense of meaning, a sense of direction, and a goal to strive for, Kim explains. In recent years, research on health and longevity has expanded to focus more on these types of positive emotions.

We know that stress, depression, and anger all have negative effects on the body, especially with regard to the risk of cardiovascular disease, says Kim. The opposite emotions and mindsets satisfaction and optimism are closely linked to (but not necessarily synonymous with) a sense of purpose, he adds. Yet a sense of purpose is associated with better heart health above and beyond the effects of optimism and a positive outlook. In fact, a 2016 report in Psychosomatic Medicine that pooled findings from 10 different studies found that people with a high sense of purpose in life had a lower risk of having a cardiovascular event (such as a heart attack or stroke) and of dying from any cause, compared with people who had a lower sense of purpose.

You can explore a wide range of volunteer opportunities online at these organizations, which offer many different ways to give back to your community:

- Volunteer Match (www.volunteermatch.org) connects people with local volunteer opportunities that match their interests and expertise, with such choices as helping animals, assisting immigrants and refugees, working with computers and technology, and numerous others.

-The Corporation for National and Community Service (www.nationalservice.gov) is a federal agency that invests in a range of nonprofit local community organizations that mentor and tutor at-risk youth, rebuild communities struck by natural disasters, help seniors live independently, and support veterans and military families.

-Experience Corps (www.aarp.org/experience-corps) recruits and trains older adults to tutor children from kindergarten through third grade who are struggling to read. They work in lower-income districts in 22 cities throughout the country.

Source: https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/many-ways-volunteering-good-heart-201606039726

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