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Microsoft says Africa’s 1 billion youth population is pivotal to future of work

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Microsoft has acknowledged that Africa’s one billion youth population will play a pivotal role in the global workforce and the future of work by the turn of the century.

This was stated during a webinar by Microsoft Africa’s Chief Technology and Solutions Officer, Ravi Baht who discussed insights from the “AI and the Future of Work in Africa whitepaper,” which is a collaborative effort with industry experts across the continent.

He indicated that Africa is at a unique juncture to influence the future of work, especially as large language models (LLMs) and application environments evolve.

African youths and the future of work

Bhat revealed that Africa is home to one billion people under 35, with the continent expected to contain nearly half the global youth population soon.

Unfortunately, up to 12 million young Africans enter the job market annually, yet more than 20% remain unengaged in employment, education, or training, according to the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

What he said

Ravi Bhat conveyed his vision of generative AI significantly transforming work environments and creating new opportunities for the youths to innovate and drive economic growth.

He said,

We envision generative AI playing a pivotal role in transforming work environments and creating opportunities for youth to innovate, drive economic growth, and foster job creation”.

He also spoke on the potential of generative AI (GenAI) to redefine jobs, skill requirements, and outputs, citing a McKinsey research which suggests that GenAI could enhance annual labour productivity growth by up to 0.6% through 2040, depending on technology adoption and task reallocation.

However, Bhat cautioned that technology alone is insufficient to overcome the challenges faced by Africa’s youthful demographics.

He stressed the need for policies that ensure responsible GenAI deployment and dignified employment.

The Director of Microsoft Research Africa, Jacki O’Neill also emphasized the transformative power of GenAI in augmenting human capabilities across various sectors.

As access to GenAI tools expands across Africa through internet-enabled devices and more affordable data, barriers to access are diminishing, presenting increased opportunities for skills development,” O’Neill said.

O’Neill underscored the importance of equipping African youths with skills to excel in an AI-driven labor market, including GenAI tool deployment, innovative application development, and expertise in fields like machine learning and cybersecurity.

“Investing in these skills equips Africans to create dignified jobs, integrate AI sensitively with indigenous knowledge, forge new value chains, and develop AI systems that reflect human-centered and community values,” he noted.

The whitepaper highlights the significance of proactive governance, inclusive design, and commitment to regulatory and ethical standards to ensure beneficial outcomes with GenAI.

This is a collective responsibility involving policymakers, technologists, and citizens alike,” O’Neill emphasized.

He pointed out that the AI revolution in Africa is not just a possibility but is already in progress, with Microsoft committed to working with individuals, governments, and stakeholders across the continent.

Source: https://nairametrics.com/2024/06/19/microsoft-says-africas-1-billion-youth-population-is-pivotal-to-future-of-work/

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