March 16, 2023

African economy: The need to transition from natural resources to future-tech

2022 Cybersecurity Landscape: Nigerian companies’ll pay huge ransom on ransomware

…As SAP research reveals top tech skills challenges

By Prince Osuagwu

A new report ‘Africa’s Tech Skills Scarcity Revealed’ by SAP Africa has unveiled the specific challenges and opportunities for African organisations seeking greater tech skills in the continent.

Managing Director, SAP Africa, Cathy Smith, while discussing the report with African Journalist in an online meeting recently, said there is an urgent need to invest in skills development and training to ensure Africa can capitalise on its youth dividend.

She said: “More than half of the world’s population growth between now and 2050 will take place in Africa, where 1.3-billion people are expected to be given birth to by mid-century. With the correct investment in skills development, Africa’s economy could transition away from its reliance on natural resources to build the world’s future tech workforce, bringing untold economic and social benefit to the continent and its citizens. However, as our research reveals, African organisations still face some difficulties with attracting, retaining and upskilling suitably skilled tech workers.”

The research was conducted among organisations in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa in the fourth quarter of2022.

Effects of inadequate tech skills

The ‘Africa’s Tech Skills Scarcity Revealed’ report found that a lack of skills is having a negative effect on the continent’s digital transformation efforts.

It reveals that four in five organisations surveyed, reported some negative effect from a lack of tech skills, with 41 percent reporting that employees are leaving due to the pressures they experience as a result of understaffing. Other consequences include 46 percent who rested the issue on not being able to meet client needs, 60 percent who suggested it was due to reduced capacity for innovation, and losing customers to competitors which constituted about 60 percent.

Nearly all organisations sampled by the survey expected to experience tech skills -related challenge in 2023. More than two-thirds also said they expect to experience a skills gap in the year ahead. According to the data, the top skills challenge for African organisations is attracting skilled new recruits, although in South Africa the retention of skilled employees narrowly edged out attracting skills as the top challenge.

Co-creating a new world of work

In response to the ongoing tech skills challenges, Smith noted that organisations are taking bold steps to ensure they have access to the correct tech skills. According to the report, Forty-one percent said that upskilling of existing employees would be a top priority in 2023, while 40 percent said the same about re-skilling employees.

She said: “Companies are also adopting technology tools and flexible work practices to ensure they can attract, retain and mobilise the correct mix of tech skills. Seven in ten organisations currently use a human capital management or employee experience tool, while nearly half  of companies were open to remote work, although most want employees to be in the office at least some of the time. This new workplace dynamic will require leaders to co-create new models for work, with constant collaboration with employees to ensure alignment with company objectives and culture.”

The ‘Africa’s Tech Skills Scarcity Revealed’ report also found that the most in-demand skills include cybersecurity and data analytics which has 63 percent, developer and industry skills 49 percent, and digital transformation skills, 48 percent.

Change management gap persists

Meanwhile, the change management skills so essential to successful digital transformation were not highly prized among the companies surveyed, revealing an opportunity for smarter investment in specific skills to improve the outcomes of initiatives. Only 18 percent of companies cited change management as an in-demand skill.

Smith revealed further that “studies have shown that less than a third of digital transformation projects succeed, partly due to the fact that only 34 percent of change management projects are clear successes. For a continent that is rapidly transforming through the accelerated adoption of digital technologies, ensuring effective change management could greatly improve outcomes and equip organisations with new capabilities to drive growth and innovation.”