How technology can be used as a catalyst for development

Tuesday December 10 2019

In today’s technological world, there are a lot

In today’s technological world, there are a lot of opportunities that present themselves in different sectors. All it takes is agility and the resolve to make good use of these avenues. PHOTO I FILE 

By Detricia Pamba

In this century, the power of technology is not only evident, but also undeniable. Technology’s power keeps increasing as new innovations keep rising day by day, and if it is used right, technology has the power to be a catalyst for change, bringing development to both nations and individuals.

While some people fear this immense power of tech, some are actually investing big bucks in it. People are working day and night to innovate new technologies. Although we are still a bit behind with the technological transformations, many Tanzanians are now waking up and engaging much more in the development of this sector.

In an interview with Success, the CEO of Mtabe app and My Elimu, Given Edward, said that technology is important because it accelerates development, referring to most developed countries prospering because of technology.

“If today it takes us up to two weeks to do one thing, with tech we can do it in a day, so this accelerates things. Technology anywhere works to improve three things; Speed, quality or accessibility. For development of any society, these three things are vital,” added Edward.

Given’s statement was backed by another Tanzanian youth, tech innovator of Kaya Smart and Somaapp Technologies, Isaya Yunge. Echoing Given’s sentiments, Isaya said, through tech, entrepreneurs accumulate wealth while solving different social challenges.

“Well, nowadays many entrepreneurs are building wealth at the peril of social challenges, and this is the advantage that our society reaps, it’s the Mtabe App, NALA Money, Visomo App, Daktari App innovated by young people that are solving social challenges, hence technology solution from grassroots are important to our people, and if well executed will generate income, create employment, pay taxes, and rewards the founders by creating wealth and these will lead to increase of philanthropists, and angel investors into the tech ecosystem in Tanzania,” he said.

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However, he posed the question of what our country is doing to make conducive environments for many youth and university graduates to use technology and innovate local solutions, a question whose answer is shown through the International Labour Organization (ILO) initiatives in the country to empower people in the use of technology, especially through conserving the future of works.

ILO launched the Global Commission on Future of Work on 22 January, 2019 in Geneva, focusing around three pillars of action: Investing in people’s capabilities, Investing in the institutions of work and Investing in decent and sustainable work, where a Centenary Declaration for the Future of Work was adopted during this year’s ILO’ ILC, which ended in June.

The Centenary is being marked at a time of transformative change in the world of work, driven by technological innovations, demographic shifts, environmental and climate change, and globalization.

According to a report from ILO the future is certainly marked by technological advancements which are facilitating new business models and new ways that workers engage in work.

Increased automation and computerization, however, are causing major disruption and, in some cases, a replacement of tasks leading to job loss.

“This means that we need to rethink our skills development strategies to meet new demands. This does not have to spell disaster, in fact, technological advancements can yield more employment opportunities.

Think about the increased number of drivers in Dar es Salaam after the advent of services such as Uber,” the report queries.

Technology advancements are changing the world of work but they also spell a lot of opportunities for young people in Tanzania, such as Tulanana Bohela, Co-Founder of Ona Stories, a storytelling and technology company. Tulanana alongside others in her company have been using news trends of technology to improve storytelling.

“We are always on the lookout for new ways and techniques that will help us tell our stories better. The future of work is developing really fast, but I think this happens differently for different sectors,” added Bohela.

Despite having technology to improve our lives, better yet our jobs, Tulanana insists on having desirable soft skills and adaptability character, to be able to adjust in a world that is running to the 4th industrial revolution, whereas Tanzania is still lagging behind.

She added, “Young people need to integrate that and know that their value is what they bring to the table in terms of their skills, their thinking and their creativity, rather than the title behind it.”

Nevertheless, Jummane Mtambalike, the CEO of Sahara Ventures commented that the future of work requires young people to be equipped with knowledge beyond what is given from school. They need to think critically and learn how to analyze and how to communicate and engage with people, things that a computer and other machines cannot do.

“Jobs can be taken over but new jobs will be created. The issue is how we prepare our young people with relevant skills and relevant resources for them to be able to consume these new jobs,” he added.

The young tech innovator further noted on how Instagram is used by thousands of people to generate income, a new opportunity towards work grasped by tech enthusiasts.

He said, “If you go to Instagram right now, thousands of women are using the platform to do business. We’ve just finished doing work with UN women, dealing with women in business, 700 women registered to engage in our event last year, 64 per cent of them use Instagram to do their businesses,” he said.

Despite the statements, Mtambalike thinks that the most important thing is not just skills because computer is reaching a stage where it can do almost everything, hence we need to invest more in soft skills, extra-curricular programs and the future of learning shouldn’t be left only in the classrooms.

One of the recommendations put forward by the ILO’s Global Commission on the Future of Work, as the ILO Centenary is marked, is the formal recognition of a universal entitlement to lifelong learning and the establishment of an effective life-long learning system.

If people are to benefit from new opportunities in the constantly changing world of work, they need to re-skill and up-skill throughout their working lives. New skills will be needed in the future and some skills will no longer be useful.

Analytical, problem solving, creative thinking skills will be more in demand so will technological design and programming as well as emotional intelligence.

The skills stated up cannot be acquired once off, they are attained through a process of constant updating, hence the need of life-long learning.

An estimated 15 to 20 million increasingly well-educated young people are expected to join the African workforce every year for the next three decades.

Delivering the quality jobs to match in order to fully leverage the continent’s demographic opportunity is set to be one of Sub-Saharan Africa’s defining challenges over the coming years.

The ILO proposes a human-centered agenda for the future of work that strengthens the social contract by placing people and the work they do at the center of economic and social policy and business practice.

Although the future of jobs might be seen as a threat, technology is proving to bring in new opportunities and new jobs along with it.

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