Sub-Saharan Africa will need at least 20 million jobs annually to meet the demands of a fast growing population, Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), said here on Monday.
Opening the IMF’s “Future of Jobs in sub-Saharan Africa” conference, she said the growth in job demands will thicken with the projected growth in population.
Lagarde, who arrived in Ghana late Sunday for a three-day official visit, projected that sub-Saharan Africa’s population will increase from the current level of 1 billion to 1.7 billion by 2040.
“The labor force will increase at double the rate of the last decade. As a result, sub-Saharan Africa needs to create 20 million jobs per year to keep up with its growing labor force,” Lagarde said.
If successful, she said, the continent would enjoy a long period of high growth, one of the demographic dividends of the continent’s population growth.
Though the advancement in artificial intelligence and robotics are poised to transform the job market dramatically, as is already happening in some places, Lagarde was confident that like previous industrial revolutions, technology will improve living standards over the long run with new jobs emerging to replace old ones.
“Others fear that automation will replace humans in a variety of tasks, leading to job losses and rising inequality. I must confess that I am more of a techno-optimist. I believe we can run with machines, not against them,” she said.
Lagarde lauded the signing of the Continental Free Trade Agreement by African leaders as a positive first step toward creating an integrated pan-African market in response to the challenging external environment.
With this, Lagarde said, sub-Saharan Africa would be able to harness successfully new technologies and create an emerging vibrant middle class. Enditem