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Skills shortage hinders Africa’s cloud adoption

  Skills shortage hinders Africa’s cloud adoption.

Another call has been made for investment in Sub-Saharan Africa’s education and work sectors.

African countries and organisations are not very quick to adopt new technologies that include cloud solutions in particular, due to a skills shortage and lack of training. This according to recently appointed NetApp Country Manager Morne Bekker, who oversees the SADC region at the storage and data management company.

In an interview with ITWeb Africa this week, Bekker said although the continent is deploying new technologies, it does so with reservation due to a conservative culture.

“If I look at best practices, a lot of our counterparts in the SADC region and even my colleagues in East and West Africa, there’s a lot of bright people there, there’s a lot of technology that’s being adopted. One of the key components that we see (in Africa), on a micro level is a resource scarcity and conformity. When I say we’ve got no resources, typically there’s a lack of training and a lack of expertise in different technology sets and the broader sort of set understanding. If you look at macro factors, then you bring in socio-economic problems, you bring in political instability, and you bring in exchange rate issues and lack of foreign currency.”

Bekker added that nascent technologies like the internet of things is already in use - although it is not yet fully pervasive.

“It’s not yet there but there certainly is a hunger and a need to adopt it, same with cloud services. There are definitely people that are interested and there are a lot of people that are using cloud services, but it’s not a hundred percent pervasive yet, and that’s just the growth journey.”

While he believes country comparisons are hard to make, Bekker advised that the continent should embrace the sharing of knowledge between its diverse economies.

“Each country in SADC is unique and has got its set of challenges, so it’s very difficult to compare them...you’ve got open democratic countries within Africa and you’ve got closed ones, and each one has got different priorities. In the open economies, you obviously see a lot of embracing of technology and solutions and you see much better standards. It’s very difficult to categorise and give a general view of the whole region,” said Bekker.

Technologies to impact education and jobs

Bekker's observation of a low adoption of new technologies echoes findings by the World Economic Forum (WEF) 2017 Future of Jobs and Skills in Africa report, released in May this year.

The report found that it is imperative for Africa, which has one of the youngest populations in the world, to make adequate investments in education and learning that hold value in the labour market and help to prepare its citizens for the world of tomorrow.

WEF’s Human Capital Index, which forms part of the report, found that Sub-Saharan Africa currently only captures 55% of its human capital potential, compared to a global average of 65%.

This skills instability often stems from the fact that many jobs in the region are becoming more intense in their use of digital technologies, according to WEF.

“Average ICT intensity of jobs in South Africa increased by 26% over the last decade, while 6.7% of all formal sector employment in Ghana and 18.4% of all formal sector employment in Kenya occurs in occupations with high ICT intensity.”

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