Jobs in Africa are under a Big Threat from Robots and AI


All indications point to a future where the industrialized countries like the United States will no longer need to outsource jobs as massively as they have been doing. All that jobs could be done in their home countries at a fraction of the cost of labor both locally and overseas. That would be all thanks to robots and artificial intelligence taking over manual labor.

But don’t take my word for it! A report by the London-based research institute, which has already sounded the alarm over widespread adoption of automation, robotics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence. Such development will cause widespread loss of jobs in developing countries where the population will be even higher when such technology will be plausible on broad scale level.

When you think of the evil robot, you imagine the Terminator movie where the robots conspire to end the human race in a bloody fight; Armageddon. Well, things might not be that dramatic, but there is no denying, people doing manual jobs (the bulk of the people in the job market) will be first in line to lose their livelihood to the machines.

Developing countries have for long been providing cheap labor to industrialized countries in the way of outsourcing. However, with the introduction of robotics, automation, ML, and AI in the production line, manufacturers will quickly find outsourcing much more expensive. Thus cut jobs overseas and focus on local production; except the labor will be from a machine working around the clock, instead of a human.

The research firm Overseas Development Institute gave a case study of furniture manufacturing in Africa.

In the next 15 to 20 years, robots in the U.S. are actually going to become much cheaper than Kenyan labor,” says Karishma Banga, a co-author of the Overseas Development Institute report.

Particularly in the furniture manufacturing industry. So this means that around 2033, American companies will find it much more profitable to reshore production back. Which means essentially get all the jobs and production back from the developing countries to the U.S. And that obviously can have a very significantly negative effects for jobs in Africa.”

While labor from robots will be getting cheaper with time, human labor will be more and more expensive.

So the cost of a robot or the cost of a 3D printer, they’re declining at similar levels, around 6% annually. So that’s a significant decline. Whereas wages in developing countries are rising.”

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