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Tech Jobs for Africa

For Africans, the free products on offer from technology companies have been useful, and in some cases – such as mapping and social media – they have been transformative. But for Africans interested in a tech industry job, the prospects are bleak.

KIGALI – What value does the digital economy provide Africa? The largest technology companies all have strategies for getting their products into African markets, but few have plans to provide what Africans truly need: jobs in the economy of the future.

Africa’s population is projected to soar from 1.2 billion today to 2.4 billion by 2050. Over the same period, the tech titans of Silicon Valley and other hubs will be using their stockpiles of cash to transform the global economy, through innovations such as self-driving vehicles, genetic modification, and even the colonization of space.

And yet the prospects are bleak for Africans interested in playing any sort of role in shaping how these technologies influence their lives. Everywhere one looks, the technology picture is the same. Free digital products have been useful. In some cases – such as email, mapping, and social media – they have been transformative. But it hardly ever translates into local ownership. Even as tech revenues soar on the continent, almost no tech jobs are being created for Africans. Indeed, Silicon Valley could soon face a backlash similar to the reaction to Hollywood’s failure to promote black talent.

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