Celebrated broadcaster author and political analyst Eusebius McKaiser has died after suffering what is believed to have been an epileptic seizure. The Grahamstown-born, Rhodes…
Sentech Africa Tech Week: 7 key takeaways
Sentech Africa Tech Week 2023 shed light on two critical issues plaguing the continent: the persistent unemployment crisis and the growing technology divide. The conference, held at the Century City Conference Centre in Cape Town, brought together over 400 guests and featured expert speakers who delved into the challenges and potential solutions facing Africa’s technological landscape.
Addressing the audience via hologram, musician, tech CEO, and innovator will.i.am expressed concerns about the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on employment. He remarked, “A lot of people’s jobs are at stake, including mine. Can we be a part of making that future less threatening? Yes. We’re in the Fourth Industrial Revolution that is forcing us to make new things in new ways, using the tools and technology we have now.”
South Africa’s minister of communications and digital technologies, Mondi Gungubele, underscored the pressing issue of unemployment in the country. “Too many South Africans do not work. Our strategy as the government is to train young people in data science, robotics, and cloud computing,” he stated, emphasising the need to build human capital to meet the demands of the rapidly advancing technological landscape.
The event also shed light on the technology divide, exposing the disparity between the pace of innovation and the sluggish regulatory environment.
Llew Claasen, co-founder of Newton Partners and an investor, expressed concerns about stifling regulatory environments, highlighting the need for an enabling ecosystem that fosters growth and innovation.
Education emerged as a critical component in bridging the technology divide. Ajit Gopalakrishnan, head of Odin Education, raised important questions about the future of education in the face of generative AI. He suggested a shift from an exclusive focus on coding to teaching broader skills, stating, “I don’t think coding is going to be around for a long time, AI is going to do most of it.”
The conference also highlighted Africa’s unpreparedness for the technological challenges ahead. Mactar Seck, the UN Economic Commission for Africa technology chief, stressed the need for education and investment in digital technology to unlock Africa’s potential and define new job opportunities.
Additionally, the event drew attention to the need for authentic African storytelling and local solutions to address the technology divide. Lonwabo Sambula, chairperson of IMS Ventures, emphasised the importance of digitalisation in the taxi industry to formalise the economy and provide access to those marginalized from the formal sectors.
Sentech Africa Tech Week 2023 served as a platform for crucial discussions surrounding the unemployment crisis and the technology divide in Africa. As the continent grapples with these challenges, it highlighted the urgency for collaborative efforts between government, industry, and educational institutions to drive sustainable growth, foster innovation, and bridge the technology gap in Africa.
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