African governments, besieged by protests over inept service delivery, have been urged to embrace technology to improve governance systems and ensure the burgeoning youth population has the requisite skills to compete in an increasingly digital world.

Analysts meeting at a key summit in the US said in the wake of service delivery protests and job losses, that socio-economic strife lingered if the government and stakeholders insisted on outmoded operational systems at a time the world was embracing technology.

“Otherwise, the worst will hit the entire continent,” said technology expert Franck Cohen.

In an interview on the sidelines of Systems Applications Products (SAP) Sapphire Now + Americas’ SAP Users’ Group annual conference in Orlando, Florida, Cohen, who is SAP chief commercial officer, said the continent should move with speed to adapt to such modern technologies as artificial intelligence.

He recommended that curricula for tertiary education should include artificial intelligence lest the graduates who successfully completed their academic training found themselves without jobs as robots take over.

“Low-skill type of jobs are at risk. The main manual tasks in data enterprise can potentially be replaced by automation and machinery capabilities,” he said.

His sentiments follow research and analysis indicating that by 2025 the world will have a fully automated accounting system dubbed “manual intervention”, which would render such jobs as accounting irrelevant.

“Precisely accountants will be jobless by then,” Cohen said.

“The same applies to call centres. The digital assistance and digital robots will replace call centre operators.

“On the other hand, the machinery is bringing in a lot of opportunities for people for new jobs to be created.”

New opportunities and new possibilities would be created specifically for technology analysts, data scientists and a new crop of people to build algorithms, hence the recommendation that government and stakeholders focused their attention on equipping youth with technology skills, he said.

“It is also an opportunity for Africa and for some universities to adopt those technologies (artificial intelligence) and build the skill that the world will need very soon when those technologies are deployed across the globe,” said Cohen.

Artificial intelligence would also eliminate keyboards for computers.

“This means those computer operators not upgrading their skills would be irrelevant.

“Soon, people will talk to computers. Users will not have to type anything on their keyboard; the system will recognise their voice and recognise their order.”

Cohen said countries that adopted modern innovations would realise a 2% growth in gross domestic product, hence African tertiary institutions must prioritise artificial intelligence.

Cohen said African governments and businesses could not afford to overlook artificial intelligence technologies.

“Artificial intelligence is being neglected in Africa, yet it requires a new generation of scientists and students to develop these technologies. Africa should not miss this,” he said. – CAJ News