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Microsoft targets AI revolution to drive job creation in Africa

By , Senior contributor
Africa , 25 Jun 2024
Africa  is being urged to leverage AI to drive economic growth, and empower its workforce.
Africa is being urged to leverage AI to drive economic growth, and empower its workforce.

A Microsoft whitepaper is backing generative Artificial Intelligence (AI) to drive job creation for the one billion African youths by tapping into the continent’s vibrant tech ecosystem.

According to the AI and the Future of Work in Africa whitepaper produced by Microsoft and a collective of industry experts from across the continent, the AI revolution presents a powerful tool to shape a dignified future for work in Africa.

“We see a significant role for generative AI to not only transform work environments, but also foster opportunities for the youth to create jobs, innovate and help drive economic growth and stability across the continent,” said Ravi Bhat, chief technology and solutions officer at Microsoft Africa.

The white paper, an output of a multidisciplinary workshop in Nairobi led by a cross-organisational team that included the University of Pretoria, brought together diverse thought-leaders from various sectors and backgrounds to discuss the implications of generative AI for the future of work in Africa.

Discussions centered around four key themes: Macroeconomic impacts; Jobs, skills and labour markets; Workers’ perspectives, and Africa-centric AI platforms.

The paper proactively addresses the challenges and harnesses the opportunities Africa can leverage AI to drive economic growth, empower its workforce, and become a leader in socially responsible AI development.

According to the whitepaper, many expect generative AI to drastically change knowledge worker jobs, especially in terms of the type of work done, the skills required, and the outputs produced.

McKinsey research shows that generative AI (GenAI) could enable labour productivity growth of up to 0.6% annually through 2040, depending on the rate of technology adoption and the redeployment of worker time into other activities.

“Generative AI has significant potential to advance human capabilities. As more people across Africa get access to GenAI tools through their internet-enabled devices and more affordable data, the barriers to access are being reduced and opportunities for skilling can increase,” said Jacki O’Neill, director at Microsoft Research Africa.”

It further advocates that the promise of GenAI to transform industries such as agriculture, healthcare, and services must be balanced by equipping the youth with the skills needed for an AI-disrupted labour market to ensure that they are not left behind in this technological shift.

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