Technological developments and automation may threaten some jobs, but likely more jobs will be created than lost, South Africa CEO of Naspers Phuti Mahanyele-Dabengwa has said.
Speaking during a virtual session by the BRICS Business Forum on leveraing digital technologies for better governance and higher growth, Mahanyele-Dabengwa said economic growth could be unlocked by allowing citizens to participate in an increasingly digital world.
She argued that technological developments and automation were an opportunity for job creation, pointing out that in South Africa in particular, there needs to be an accelerated growth of the internet sector. The unemployment rate is at a record of 32.6%.
"We need greater connectivity for inclusivity," said Mahanyele-Dabengwa. Leaving people behind means losing an opportunity for economic growth, she said.
One way to make sure there is inclusivity is to put in place digital skills programmes. In 2019, Naspers launched Naspers Labs, a development programme that provides young people with the training and skills to pursue tech careers, Fin24 previously reported.
Mahanyele-Dabengwa said it is especially important for South Africa's young population to have the digital skills and participate in work-readiness programmes.
She explained that digitisation can assist small, medium and micro-enterprises (SMMEs) in accessing markets. Naspers is focusing on helping SMMEs grow and has launched a R1.4 billion investment vehicle for early stage tech companies. It has made available R400 million for seven companies in South Africa.
"Technology can transform our economies, create jobs and boost growth and make possible the transition to a more sustainable and equitable society," Mahanyele-Dabengwa said.
She noted government's plans to release more spectrum to ensure greater connectivity. This would support the roll out of internet products, she said.
"I think as a continent, Africa needs more private-public partnerships to accelerate economic growth and harness the potential that the fourth industrial revolution brings, for the future of the large and growing population of young people, of working age," she said.
*Fin24 is part of Media24, a subsidiary of Naspers.