The pace of advancement for digital technologies is on a high, sending shivers down the spine of many workers. The phenomenon has ignited the spread of automation, robotics, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning algorithms among others.
Many workers have already been rendered jobless. According to the 2018 Future of Jobs Report by the World Economic Forum, millions of jobs may be displaced even though new roles could be created – “75 million jobs may be displaced by a shift in the division of labour between humans and machines, while 133 million new roles may emerge that are more adapted to the new division of labour between humans, machines and algorithms”. The report further hints that, by 2025, half of existing workplace roles will be taken over by machines. One can envisage the ramifications of job takeovers and what it means to a world already troubled with alarming rate of unemployment.
Introducing Unreasonable FUTURE
In a swift attempt to mitigate the impact of job losses, a collaborated group comprising of Fossil Foundation, Pearson and Accenture birthed a movement named Unreasonable FUTURE. The global crusade is targeted at creating a balance of inclusivity in the division of labour between human employees, robots and algorithms.
Located in various parts of the world, all employees, irrespective of their creed, race, social, economic and political standings will be mentored, trained and re-skilled to be equipped with the requisite set of skills for the future of work. This has commenced with fifteen (15) merited pioneering companies across the globe that are solving societal challenges through innovative means. For a period of twelve (12) days, the entrepreneurs representing the various companies were mentored by one hundred and sixty-three (163) experts from over five hundred (500) companies.
Esoko, a pioneering Tech Firm which serves in excess of one million farmers across Africa, was one of the two companies selected in Africa and was represented by its Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Daniel Asare-Kyei. In an exclusive conversation with the Communications Team, Dr. Asare-Kyei noted that the company earned the slot due to its contributions in improving the livelihoods of rural Africa, especially farmers through digital services and financial inclusion.
Implications for farmers in Africa
Dr. Asare-Kyei was optimistic about the opportunity to improve the skills and talents of smallholder farmers in Africa, in order to remain relevant in the digital economy. He further explained, “If the farmers we are trying to support to increase their productivity and income, are replaced by robots in tree planting, harvesting etc; because we already have robots that can plant and harvest trees and if all these are happening what will the farmer do? How can we help the farmer to move from that level of manual work to a level where they can work with the robots in their farms? So, for Esoko that is what we need to start thinking about and how we can contribute to solving the digital divide, as an innovative company”. He went ahead to assess the implications of introducing robots in Africa. Dr. Asare-Kyei observed, “If you look at Africa, there’s a lot of rural urban migration where people move from rural areas to the cities. Ideally, where industries are working very well and the economy is booming, these guys will find themselves employed in factories. But what happens if the same factories are replacing people with robots and machines? What is going to be the future of these people? For Africa as a whole, that is what we need to start thinking about and how we can help reverse the trend.
Touching on how the initiative will impact Esoko’s services and products, Dr. Asare-Kyei spoke on how the move is in line with the company’s mission to promote digital and financial inclusion for rural dwellers, adding that “when people are digitally and financially included in the global economy or national economy, it becomes easier to train them”.
Need for collaboration
He went on to underscore the need to intensify awareness about Unreasonable FUTURE by creating effective collaboration with policy makers, governments, business owners and other stakeholders including the under-served youths – “for us as a business, we have to do what we need to do and do it very well and try to make people know what this is all about. We need to strengthen our engagements and our communication with our partners”.
Dr. Asare-Kyei expressed his gratitude to the Unreasonable FUTURE Group for their recognition and pledged maximum support for the movement. According to him, he is very keen about the vision and the works that have commenced towards achieving an inclusive and equitable work future.
The participating companies of the maiden Unreasonable FUTURE are Accenture, Aspect Biosystems, BIOS Health, Boxspring Entertainment, Classcraft, Esoko, Fossil Foundation, ID4A Technologies, Kalibrr, Komaza, Nanobiosym, Pearson, Shortlist, Simplilearn, Skyhive, SocialCops, Strongarm Technologies, Workbay and XpertSea.